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Biology Research Guide

This guide is designed specifically for students doing research in Biology.

Identifying and clearly describing your topic:

Identify and clearly define your topic                                                   Find background information

** Avoid broad subjects (information overload)                                                     ** Use catalogs to locate books

** Narrow topics will limit your sources (not enough information)                      ** Use abstracts and citations to find journal articles                                                                                                                        ** Formulate an effective search strategy 

                                                                                                                                     ** Find the journals which contains your articles


Find background information

  • Use catalogs to locate books
  • Use abstracts and citations to find journal articles
  • Formulate an effective search strategy
  • Find the journals which contains your articles

Evaluate sources

Organize information

Write and Cite your sources


1.  Full text databases - full text databases contain the entire journal article and abstract

Examples: BioOne, SAGE eJournals, SpringerLink eJournals, JSTOR, Science Direct Subject Collections, EBSCOHost Education Research Complete, Food Science Source, CINAHL Plus® with Full Text, Project Muse Basic Research and Annual Reviews.

2.  Abstract Databases - are not full text (provide citation or abstract information)

Examples: MEDLINE,  GreenFile, and SCIFINDER  

3.  Full collection of eBooks - the entire book is available online

Examples: SpringerLink eBooks, SAGE eReference, EBSCOHost eBooks, ProQuest eBook Central, JSTOR Open Access eBooks and ProjectMuse eBooks.


1. Scholarly articles are written by professionals in the field

           -- authors are subject matter experts, the information and data has been researched & reviewed           

2. Non-scholarly articles are written in popular magazines

           -- information is not researched

           -- articles are often biased and based on opinions

3. Trade publications cover business trends, new products or techniques, and organizational news

             -- written by staff or contributing authors


4. Primary Sources are original documents or records of events described by someone who participated or witnessed the events.  For  example: government census, historical documents, statistical data, or manuscripts.

5. Secondary Sources are works that have been analyzed, an interpretation or review of the original work. For example: reviews, monographs, handbooks or literary criticisms.