Gray's Anatomy, 1887. Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisjohnbeckett/page23/
Whether you are working alone or in a group, the first step is choosing a topic. If you are having trouble thinking of a topic you are interested in, browse the table of contents from your anatomy/physiology textbook and choose something that interested you (or your group) in class. Write that topic down. Re-read that section in your textbook. Then generate a list of questions about that topic. Write down everything! Reject nothing!
Example: Spinal column
These (and more!) are all researchable questions.
Once you have accomplished this, all you have to do is choose one! (note: Through the research process your question may change slightly. This is normal!)
What you have done above is brainstorm a topic and narrow your focus. Now you must figure out a way to research it.
Brainstorm a list of search terms
Think of words and phrases relating to your topic or the concept you are researching. Consider broader and narrower terms, and synonyms (words that have the same meaning). You can look in specialized encyclopedias or dictionaries for help in finding terms that are used in your field of research. Here is a partial list of terms used to discuss the spinal column:
Spinal column, vertebral column, spine, vertebra, vertebrae, backbone, cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, coccyx
Combine terms by using Boolean operators
When searching the library catalog, databases, or the internet, Boolean operators help you broaden or narrow your search and its results:
Use truncation symbols (usually ? or *) to capture all forms of words (rehab? will retrieve rehabilitate, rehabilitation and rehabilitating).
Research! Find different sources to make your paper robust
See guides for Finding Books, Finding Articles, Finding Websites, and Finding Images for more details.
Read and analyze the material you find
Evaluate the sources you’ve found, paying attention to their relevance, purpose, value, accuracy, and authors’ credibility. As you start to create an outline of your project or paper, note areas where you need more information.
Research is circular! You may realize that the sources you initially found are incomplete. Perhaps those sources are now leading your research down a slightly different path and you need to alter your research focus. Perhaps you read book and found a citation to a journal article that seems perfect for your paper…time to do a bit more searching!
Gather citations for your sources
As you’re doing research, you should write down bibliographic information (author, title, publisher, date of publication, journal name, volume, issue, database used, date you accessed the information) This will enable you to be prepared to create a bibliography or “Works Cited” list.
Gray's figure 527. Gray's Anatomy. 1918. Retrieved from Bartleby.com.