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BIOL 20: Ecological Biology - Library Research Help

This course guide will help Biology 20 students think about their research ideas and complete the required worksheet for class credit.

Developing a Research Idea

What should you research? Here are some ways to figure that out:

  • Class readings or discussions - Refer to your class readings or discussions. What have you been reading in class that has been interesting to you from those?
  • Personal interests - Is there something that you like/dislike/want to know more about that you would want to research?
  • Current events or what you're seeing in the news or online - Maybe you came across something online such as a news article, documentary you watched, or something else that you want to research?
  • Look through biology journals - Browse through some biological journals to see what is being researched and identify a topic that might be of interest to you
  • Ask your instructor or TA - You can always talk with your instructor or TA about a potential topic
  • Ask a librarian - A librarian can help you define a topic (and so much more!)

Is your research idea too broad? Ideas for narrowing your research idea:

If your research idea is 1 or 2 words (such as, deforestation or global warming) then it is too broad. You need to narrow it! Here are some options:

  • Choose a specific geographic area
    • Country = United States; Brazil, etc.
    • State = California, etc.
    • City = San Francisco, etc.
    • General area = Bay Area; Europe, etc.
  • Choose a specific species (if researching a plant or animal)
    • Bear = Black bear; brown bear; polar bear, etc.
    • Flowers = Daffodil, roses, etc.
  • Consider the reason why or potential solutions

Potential topics?

  • The extinction of monarch butterflies is a result of habitat loss.
  • What impact does hiking or other outdoor activities have on grasslands?
  • What effects does timber logging in the Brazilian rainforest have on monkeys?
  • Does tourism in Australia have an impact on the coral reefs there?
  • Overfishing is decreasing the biodiversity of salmon.
  • Overuse of palm oil is causing the extinction of many animals.