- SELECT A TOPIC
You need to have a specific topic selected before you begin
searching for information in the library. If you need help in selecting
a topic there are a few ideas listed below. If you need additional help
ask at a reference desk in the library.
- Look in your course syllabus, your teacher may have given you
a list of suggested topics for your research paper.
- Your textbook for the course is a good place to find topics that
may be of interest to you. Look in the table of contents in the index.
- Talk with you teacher she/he can give you some good suggestions
for an interesting topic.
- Do a title or keyword search in the Library Catalog using various
terms you have thought of.
Narrow your topic to something specific.
At this point you need to select a topic that is specific enough
for you to write a paper about.
Now that you have a specific topic selected, you need
to begin finding and reading some sources about your topic. From
your reading, formulate a specific question statement of hypothesis
that you intend to research and write about. Using the words in your
question statement and other related words you are now ready to search
the periodical (journal) databases to find references to articles on
your question statement.
- SEARCH THE PERIODICAL (JOURNAL) LITERATURE
In the Sciences, the primary source of information is articles
published in journals (or periodicals). The articles published in scientific
journals are "peer reviewed." This means each article is evaluated
by scientists who are well respected by their peers, before an article is
accepted for publication. Each journal has its own editorial board composed
of these well respected scientists. Articles published in magazines (or
journals) which are not "peer reviewed" often may not have accurate
information in them. Be careful with websites; many of them have very biased
information. Web sites with ".edu" are usually reliable. Web sites
with ".org" are usually biased towards the view point of the organization,
except for scientific or scholarly societies. Web sites with ".com"
are usually not scientific or scholarly. Web sites with ".gov"
are usually reliable unless they are political in nature.
The key to finding references to journal articles is periodical
databases (indexes). Searching in the appropriate database should be your
first choice for finding references to journal articles. The following procedures
will help you in finding journal articles on your topic.
Four steps to periodical literature research:
- Choose an appropriate periodical database or periodical index.
Look at the list of computer databases or periodical indexes listed in
section IV or ask at the Science Reference Desk for suggestions. You can
also go to the Harold
B. Lee Library Home Page and in the middle of the page is a section
for “Databases and Indexes”. You can find databases “by
subject” or “alphabetically”. Under each subject you
will find a list of suggested databases. You can ask at the Science Reference
Desk for additional suggestions.
- 2. Using the terms you found earlier, search for them in a computer
database related to your topic, and find some references to articles on
your topic. Print, email, save to disk, or write the following bibliographic
information for each reference you want to find:
- Journal title
- Volume number
- Date of publications
- Author of article
- Title of article
- Determine whether the library has the journal
If the library has the journal, you will find it by entering the full
title in the search box found on the bottom of the “Articles &
Journals” page which you can link to from the middle section of
the BYU Library Home Page. Check the spelling of the journal title if
you do not get any results. The results of your search will provide a
list of journal titles listed in two sections. The first section will
be titles that are available in electronic format (Electronic Journal
Finder), the second section will be titles found in the BYU Library Catalog
Database. If no titles are listed in the electronic section, look at the
titles in the BYU Library Catalog section. Click on the correct title
that matches the title you entered. On the screen which shows the detailed
entry for your journal title scroll down to the "Library Has"
heading and you will find a list of which volumes the library owns. If
the library has access to the electronic full-text of the journal, there
will be a URL link included just above the "Library Has" heading,
the line begins with “Elect Version (HTTP) Note:”. All of
the print periodicals, both bound volumes and current unbound issues are
in the Periodical Room (PER) on the North end of level 2. Ask for
help at the Periodical Room Reference desk if you cannot find the journal
title or volume you are looking for.
If the library does not have the periodical you need,
you can obtain a copy of the article through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).
You can submit ILL requests through a program called ILLiad. ILLiad
can be accessed from the Library Home Page by clicking on the Interlibrary
Loan option near the bottom of the “Quick Links” list on
the left side of the home page. The first time you make a request you
need to register by clicking on the “Registration for New Users”
link. After you have registered, you login with the username and password
with which you registered. Once you are on your ILLIAD home page you
can select the type of request you want to make and enter the information
for the article or item you want to obtain. Journal articles usually
are received in one to three working days and nearly always will be
in electronic format. You can retrieve the electronic articles from
the ILLIAD home page by clicking on the “View/Download Electronically
Received Articles” option. There is usually no cost for an ILL
request. If an article is received and can not be digitized you will
need to get the fax copy from the ILL Office, room 3421, fax copies
will cost $.10/page. You will be notified by e-mail when, and in what
format your article or item is available.
- Locate the periodical in the Lee Library.
All periodicals, both bound and unbound, are located in the Periodicals
Room on the North end of Level 2. Volumes from 1987 to the present, including
new issues not yet bound, are on the left (west) side of the Periodical
Room, and volumes from 1986 and older are on the right (east) side of
the Periodical Room. If your volume is not on the shelf, look on the cherry
wood book return shelves, by the concrete pillars in the Periodical Room.
If you still cannot find the volume you want, ask for help at the Periodical
Room Reference Desk
- You should check to see if any articles you find, which are directly
related to your topic, have references to additional articles. You should
check these additional articles to see if they have any useful information
or more good references.
- Suggestions for Searching Databases
There are various ways to search the journal databases available
through the subject list or alphabetic list on the Harold B. Lee Library
Home page. Most databases can be searched by Author, Title, Subject, and
Keyword. Many of the databases can also be searched in other ways.
- Author - enter the last name first followed by the first name.
Be sure you spell the name correctly. Some databases require that you
use the authors initials rather than the full name.
- Title - a title search requires that the terms you enter must
be in the title; in some databases, the first word you put must also be
the first word in the title of the article.
- Subject - a subject search will give you more references than
a title search, but you must enter the subject exactly as it is used in
the subject index, including dashes, commas, or word order. This includes
the use of the thesaurus terms. Many databases have a thesaurus specifically
for that database.
- Keyword - a keyword search is the most comprehensive way to search
for a topic. The computer searches for your terms any place in the reference;
whether it is in the title, the subject headings, the abstract, or some
other field (part of the reference).
Keywords can be combined in any of the following ways:
Most databases provide a way to review your search history which will
allow you to see the combination of terms you have searched with and the
number of references that were found. You can use these previous search
sets to refine you search to be more specific or more general. You can
combine search sets together, or you can combine a search set and other
terms together using "and," "or," or "not,"
- OR - this connector is used to put 2 or more related terms
together in the same group; example: cow or cattle or beef or heifer
- AND - is used to combine 2 or more ideas together
so that both ideas are used to index the same article; example: (cow
or cattle or beef or heifer or calves) and "embryo transfer"
- NOT -is used to eliminate an idea or a term from a search
you already have; example: the search from "AND" could have
“not buffalo” added; this would eliminate any articles
that have buffalo in them.
- TRUNCATION (*) - allows you to search for a term with various
endings without having to specify each ending. The * searches for
any characters following the term you enter. Example: spectro* will
retrieve spectrometer, spectroscope, spectroscopy, spectrometry. Be
careful with truncation, you can get terms you do not want. If you
want rat or rats and use rat* you will get rat or rats but you will
also get rate, rated, rating, ratio, ratios, ration, rather, ratite,
EBSCO and WEBSPIRS databases and most of our other
databases use an “*”. A few databases use a "?"
or a “$” for truncation. Most databases have a "Help"
option that will tell you what the truncation or wild card character
is for that database.
- Computer Resources
- From the Harold
B. Lee Library Home Page you can search the following resources:
Catalog - you can search BYU's online catalog, which lists all
of our books and journals.
- Databases & Indexes - This option gives a list of periodical
databases by subjects or in an alphabetic list. The subject list mostly
uses academic department names. Click on the subject you are looking
for and you will then see a list of specific databases that are relevant
to the subject you choose. To the right of each database is a link
to a description of the database, followed by a link to "connect"
to the database; and this is followed by an indication of whether
the database can be accessed from off campus. Those databases which
have " Reference Desk" in place of "connect" are either CD-ROM databases
which you must ask for at the Science/Maps Reference Desk, or DIALOG
databases that you will need a subject librarian to help you search.
The correct subject librarian can be contacted by calling 422-2987.
The Alphabetical List of Databases & Indexes can be used when you
already know the title of a database. When you see the title screen
there is a line near the top which lists all the letters in the alphabet;
click on the first letter of the first word in the title of the database
you want. Each database provides the same information as those in
the subject list.Other Library Catalogs - you can also search
library catalogs of the University of Utah, Utah State University,
RLIN, and other libraries. This option is listed under the "Other
Libraries" tab option at the top of the Library Homepage.
- Some of the databases and a brief description are listed below:
- Biological & Agricultural Index (Wilson Web) - contains citations from 222 major periodicals
(journals) on biological and agricultural subjects. These journals
are all in English and are all in the HBLL. This database covers
the years 1985 to present.
- Agricola (WebSPIRS) or Agricola (EBSCO) - Indexes over
2,000 publications and other material at the USDA National Agriculture
Library covering 1970 to present. Many references from years before
1970 are being added each month. Use it to locate publications
on all agricultural topics. It indexes journal articles, books,
conference proceedings, and technical reports from the USDA, the
US Forest Service, and the State Agricultural Experiment Stations.
- BIOSIS Previews (Biological Abstracts) - 1989+ Indexes articles
from over 7,000 biological, biomedical science, and related journals.
Updated weekly. For earlier years, ask at the Science/Maps Reference
Desk, Level 2, for a subject librarian to help you with a BIOSIS
- Cambridge Scientific/Environmental Science - A group of several databases covering
environmental topics. It indexes conference papers and journals
and some books and government publications. It indexes about 2,000
publications. It covers the years 1981 to present.
- CINAHL (EBSCO) - Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health
Literature - Indexes articles from 530 journals dealing with nursing
and public health topics. It is updated every other month and
covers the years 1983 to present.
- MEDLINE (EBSCO) - This database is produced by the National
Library of Medicine. It Indexes articles from about 4600 biomedical
journals for the years 1966 to present. The articles are mostly
on technical medical topics, written by physicians and other medical
practitioners; but there are also some less technical articles.
The BYU Lee Library has about 40% of the English language journals
indexed in this database. Almost all of the other English language
journals we do not have can be obtained by going to the Utah Valley
Regional Medical Center Medical Library in Provo or to the Eccles
Medical Library at the U of U in Salt Lake City; or you can get
copies of the articles through ILLiad, the online Interlibrary
Loan service. Ask at the Science Reference Desk for a list of
journals that are available at UVRMC, or the Eccles Library at
the U of U. The same list is also available through the Internet,
the URL is:
- SPORTDiscus (WebSPIRS) - Provides references to articles from over 2000 sport,
athletic, and exercise science journals. It also indexes some books and
conferences, and also includes sport related theses from universities in
the US and Canada. It covers the years 1975 to present.
- State Academies of Science Abstracts - This databases indexes articles from the
journals published by the Academy of Science from 46 of the 50
states in the USA. This is a great source of some major scientific
research articles in the many fields of science. Most of these
journals are index back to the first year of publication. The
BYU Library has the majority of these journals.
- Web of Science- The Web of Science accesses the Science
Citation Index (SCI), Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), and
Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) databases, gathered
from over 8,500 scholarly journals. Searches for article references
by topic, author, source title, author address, cited author,
cited work, and cited year can be performed separately or combined.
Articles are linked to other articles on the same topic. Updated
weekly, covers the years 1987+.
- CD-ROM STAND ALONE DATABASES - These databases can be obtained
from the Science Reference Desk on Level 2 of the library and searched
on computers in front of the reference desk.
- ENVIRONMENT ABSTRACTS - In this databases you will find references
to articles about all the aspects of environmental issues and also
all of the aspects of energy. The articles come from about 4,000 publications
including journals, conferences, government publications, book, and
popular magazines. It covers the years 1971 to present.
- Zoological Record - This databases indexes articles from
about 2,000 publications dealing with animal taxonomy, systematics,
ecology, and related topics. It is updated twice a year and covers
the years back to 1978. There is a printed version of this databases
which covers the literature back to the year 1864.
- Librarian Assisted Research Service
Through this service you can have a search done by a subject librarian
which will provide references to articles in scholarly and technical journals,
proceedings, and other technical publications. The service allows searching
through a potential of hundreds of databases which are loaded on very
large data banks that are not located at BYU. Information obtained through
a DIALOG search can be printed, sent to your email, or downloaded to a
disk. From the results of your search you must then look in the BYU Library
Catalog or Electronic Journal Finder to see if the BYU Library has the
publications you need; if not, you can use ILL. Please contact Betsy Spackman at 422-6777 or by email email@example.com to conduct a DIALOG search. The cost for doing DIALOG searches is subsidized
by the university so you will not have to pay any money for a search.
Some advantages to doing a librarian assisted search are that many databases
can be searched simultaneously; the duplicates between the databases can
be removed from your search results; and these searches only take about
15 to 20 minutes to complete. You will receive a printed, or disk copy
of each of the references; or they can be sent to your email address.
They can also be formatted to go in a database manager such as Procite
- Printed Resources:
If you need to find more information on your topic there
are a number of printed resources in the Science Reference Collection that
may be helpful. Ask at the Science Reference Desk for help in finding these
additional sources and using them.
- Internet Resources:
There are some good Internet sources where you can find
information that may be useful. You need to use caution and good judgment
with these Internet sources; not all of them are of academic quality. Some
sources are very opinionated and some are not even accurate. One other thing
to be careful of with Internet sources, is to be sure you give complete
and accurate information in your references so that someone can get to the
same source without any problems. Listed below are some selected Internet
sources with links; these are reputable web sites.
Medical Related Sites:
This is on the home page of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). It
will provide a variety of information on various medical topics. It will
also allow you to search MEDLINE and other medical databases which will
give you references to articles from medical journals. Under the search
box is a button that has the word "Limits" on it. This will
help you to narrow your search to more specific aspects of your topic.
On the left of the home screen are many hotlinks to lead you to many other
Internet sites where you can obtain thousands of pages of additional information.
is also an option on the NLM home page, it will provide information and
links for over 600 medical and health topics.
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM): ACSM advances and integrates scientific research to provide
educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports
- AHCPR: Agency for Health
Care Policy and Research This website provides practical, science
based health care information. There is news, announcements, health research
funding opportunities, research findings, assessment of quality healthcare,
clinical medicine information, consumer health information, health data
and surveys, and information about health products and sources.
- American Heart
Association This web is maintained, and updated by the American Heart
Association. There are many sources of information, statistics, explanations,
and heart issues.
- HIVInsite: Gateway
to AIDS Knowledge This site is updated, created, and maintained by
the University of San Francisco General Hospital. There are options for
finding information on the following aspects of HIV/AIDS: medical, prevention,
social/policy, statistics, other topics, links to other HIV related sites,
maps showing the distribution of HIV/AIDS in the USA and other countries,
and a search program to find specific information in their web site.
- HGI: HUMAN genome
index This is an index to information from the Human Genome Project.
This index provides full length gene sequences, more than 600,000 EST's
and 63,000 tentative human consensus sequences. The ultimate goal is to
represent a nonredundant view of all human genes with data on their expression
patterns, cellular roles, and functions, and evolutionary relationships.
Over 30,000 genes and their loci have been identified, and more are being
added every day. There will be over 60,000 genes when the Human Gnome
Project is completed.
- HGMIS-Human Genome
Management Information System This site provides information about
the Human Genome Project; and also provides links and URL's to many other
related Internet sites.
- MEDICINENET This
web site is produced and updated by a group of physicians. It provides
short summaries of information about a variety of medical and health related
topics of current interest.
- The Virtual-Library
Medicine This provides a comprehensive listing of WWW resources for
biology and medicine. Health resources categorized by disease.
- AMA-American Medical
Association This site provides a lot of information produced and provided
by AMA. It also provides links to other sites which provide medical related
- WHO-World Health Organization
This site provides information on international programs that aim to improve
world wide access to health care. It includes access to newsletters, catalogs
of WHO publications, and a link to the WHO Statistical Information System.
(Office of Minority Health Resource Center) Health Links. This site
includes information focused on health topics of concern to minority communities.
database. This site provides links to minority information at the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The database also includes
organizations, programs, and a document database listing more than 1400
- CDC (Centers for
Disease Control) Spanish Language Website: This site provides resources
focused on minority health.
has a link directly to minority health resources. On that page are links
to hot topics and diseases that specifically affect minority populations.
Environment Related Sites
- Envirolink This
site claims to be the largest online environmental resource on the planet.
It provides access to projects that include a "library" of links by subject;
green marketplace services; a list of online publications; an art gallery;
connections to a forum; a free net site; and an environmental newswire
services. Be careful with the academic level of what you get at this site.
- UNEP-Unite Nations Environmental
Programme This site provides information about the UNEP programs,
publications, and data.
- BIOSPHERE 2: This site
provides information about the BIOSPHERE project and includes a "cybertour"
of the project, and includes data and images from the various biomes.
- U.S. EPA-Environmental Protection
Agency This link will take you to the EPA home page and will provide
the information they have to offer to the public.
- U.S. Department of the Interior
This link will connect you to the Dept. of the Interior home page and
information which they have made available to the public.
Agriculture Related Sites
- USDA-U.S. Department of
Agriculture This link will connect you to the USDA home page. It will
provide links to the various branches and agencies of the USDA and the
sources they have made available to the public. This includes access to
the National Agricultural Library (NAL); you can also access NAL from their home page.
- FDA-Food and Drug Administration
This site will provides information about food safety, food additives,
cosmetics, and biotechnology.
- FAO-Food and Agriculture
Organizations of the UN This site provides information about FAO,
its publications and meetings.
Agricultural-related Information Systems This site will provide access
to over 400 agriculture-related databases, datasets, and information systems.
Bibliographic databases, like AGRICOLA, are not yet included.
State Agricultural Sites This site will provide access to information
resources available from the State Agricultural Universities.
- BIOSIS: Biological Sciences
Information Services This is the company that produces the BIOSIS
databases from which Biological Abstracts and Zoological Record
are produced. They also have a lot of additional information on biological,
biomedical, and molecular biology subjects.
There are many other Internet sources available; they can
be found by searching with the various web search engines, or you can ask
for help at the Science Reference Desk. We have additional lists of Internet
sites in the science disciplines.
REMEMBER!! IF YOU NEED HELP IN ANY WAY WITH YOUR RESEARCH
OR FINDING REFERENCES YOU ARE WELCOME TO ASK FOR HELP AT THE SCIENCE REFERENCE
DESK ON LEVEL 2 OF THE LIBRARY!!