Skip to Main Content

BIO1004F - Biological Diversity - Library Guide: How to information

This page intends to help in finding resources from UCT Libraries.

How to find library resources

In order to retrieve the most relevant resources when searching, follow the simple steps below.


1. Identify relevant keywords. Consider if broader or narrower terms of the keywords of your choice would help your search.

Example: searching for 'The use of microorganisms in the food & agricultural industry.'

Keywords: microorganisms, food, agriculture

Keywords with similar meanings: bacteria, fungi, vegetable, diary, meat


2. Group them in to concepts


Concept 1: microorganisms, bacteria, fungi

Concept 2: food, vegetable, diary, meat

Concept 3: agriculture

Concept 1

Concept 2

Concept 3

microorganism food agriculture
bacteria vegetable
fungi diary




3. Use Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT to tell the search engine how the keywords are related to each other.  

  • Boolean operators follow the same logic as operators of set in mathematics 

OR = union, AND = intersection and NOT=complement.

  • use OR between keywords of a concept. OR maximizes our search by collecting all items that contain the keywords
  • use AND between different concepts. AND refines our search by selecting items containing only both concepts
  • use NOT to exclude irrelevant keywords



microorganisms OR bacteria OR fungi


food OR vegetable OR diary OR meat




4. Construct your search statement

  • enclose phrases within inverted comma to tell the search engine to find the words together in the same order
  • enclose keywords of the same concept in bracket in order to priorities operation within bracket as we do in mathematics.
  • Operators should be written in capital letters  


(microorganisms OR bacteria OR fungi) AND (food OR vegetable OR diary OR meat) AND agriculture


5. Where to search

The following databases contains scholarly resources including journal articles. Find them from the UCT Libraries website.

For your Dalebrook assignment here are some of the keywords you could use: "rocky shore", zonation, diversity, ecology.

Ones you get a good article, you can also check its reference list at the end of the document for more sources.

Learn effective searching strategy to retrieve relevant resources from the video clip below.



How-to videos

Search engines and databases better retrieve most relevant items when we search by keywords combined with Boolean Operators (AND OR NOT). Boolean Operators tells the search engine how the keywords are related to each other.

Terms & definitions

Journal article: is scholarly literature often a product of research or critical review of topic area published in scholarly journals.

  • Articles can be authored by a single researcher or group of collaborating researchers.
  • Usually articles are reviewed or checked by experts of the field before publication (peer reviewed).

Scholarly Journal: a magazine that publishes scientific articles.

  • published regularly weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually … Therefore the publications have volume numbers and issue numbers to distinguish between recurrent publication.

Databases: Organized collection of journals, books and other resources in a digital format.

  • They have search boxes to enable searching across their collection.
  • They can be subject specific or multidisciplinary.

Database Platform: a collection of databases that enables searching across several databases.

Interpreting your reading list

When you are given a reference list of reading materials, here is how you can tell the difference between Books, chapters in books and journal articles. 

Book reference: books usually have publishers name and place of publication in addition to title, author/s or editors. Here is a format of book reference based on the UCT Author-Date Referencing Style with example:

Author/s or Editor/s, Year of publication, Title, Edition, Place of publication, Publisher.

Example - 1:

Cruzado Aquino, A. 2012. Marine ecosystems. Rijeka, Croatia : InTech

Example - 2:

Mohr, P. 2015. Economics for South African students, 5th ed, Pretoria: Van Schaik.


Chapter in a book reference: chapters would have referencing elements as books with additional chapter title, chapter author/s and page range. See below format of chapter in a book reference based on the UCT Author-Date Referencing Style with an example:

Author of Chapter. Year of Publication. Title of the Chapter. Title of Book (in italics). Editors of Book. Place of Publication. Publisher. Pages.


Ruiters, M. 2009. Collaboration, assimilation and contestation: emerging constructions of Coloured identity in post-apartheid South Africa. In Burdened by race: Coloured identity in South Africa. M. Adhikari, Ed. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press. 104-133.


Journal article reference: in addition to the title, author and year of publication, journal article reference include the title of the journal, volume of the journal and the issue or part where the article is published in. Here is a format of journal article reference based on the UCT Author-Date Referencing Style with examples:

Authors. Year of Publication. Title of Article. Title of journal (in italics). Volume and Issue Numbers, Pages.

Example - 1:

Azam, F. & Worden, A. Z. 2004. Microbes, molecules, and marine ecosystems. Science. 303(5664):1622-1624.

Example - 2:

Bascom-Slack, C. A., Arnold, A. E. & Strobel, S. A. 2012. Student-directed discovery of the plant microbiome and its products. Science. 338(6106):485-486.