Biology 100 Research Guide
Primary resources --peer reviewed articles written by authors who actually performed an original experiment or are reporting their field observations, i.e., of organisms or medical patients; comprises main body of scientific information and knowledge; found by searching journal article databases for references
Secondary resources --peer reviewed articles written by authors who summarize or discuss trends in the primary literature; found by searching journal article databases for references
Tertiary resources --non-peer reviewed articles, books, newspaper articles, encyclopedia entries, etc.; found by searching the Internet, the library catalog, and some databases
NOTE: The resource CQ Researcher is a tertiary resource. CQ Researcher is equivalent to an encyclopedia--you can find reliable background information in the entries, which are written by experienced journalists. However, the articles are not peer-reviewed and they do not report on research, so they are tertiary resources.
Peer review --process by which articles are submitted to experts in the scientific discipline for comments and criticism before publication in a scholarly journal; peer reviewed journals are also called "refereed"
VIDEO: How to tell if a journal is peer reviewed
Scholarly journal --journal that publishes mostly scientific, primary articles; exists to disseminate knowledge (examples: Science, Nature, Cell, Ecology)
Trade journal --journal or magazine that publishes mostly non-peer reviewed articles and frequently contains advertisements; exists to make money (examples: Science News, National Geographic, Time)
Library catalog --a searchable database that includes records representing every item in the library, including books, journals, CDs, DVDs, maps, manuscripts, and microforms
Journal article databases (also called periodical indexes) --electronically searchable sources that provide reference information to articles published in hundreds and thousands of mostly scholarly journals; most databases include an abstract (summary of the article) and some provide links to the full text of the articles; science databases index mostly primary and secondary resources
Periodicals Room --area on the north side of the second floor of the Harold B. Lee Library in which the print copies of most journals and other serial publications are shelved
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How to Find Articles
1. Find a topic and do background research
- First, you need to identify a topic for your project. You will need to find general information on the topics you are considering. This will help you understand more about the subject and give you some ideas for narrowing your topic into a manageable thesis.
- Things to do as you read background sources:
- Browse for interesting issues or questions
- Define your topic
- Look for synonyms and additional keywords
- Look for issues or problems about your topic that will help you narrow your focus
- Examine reference lists at the end of encyclopedia entries or at the back of books for important primary resources and search terminology
- Because most general information and background research is found in tertiary resources, you cannot cite these sources in either your paper or poster.
- How to find sources for background research:
- Explore your topic through encyclopedia entries and other reference materials--see below for examples, or come to the science reference desk for assistance
- Search the Internet via Google or another search engine
- Look for author information and sites of trustworthy organizations
- Reliability: .edu and .gov are more reliable than .com sites
- BE VERY CAREFUL about the sites you look at on the Internet, and DO NOT cite them in your paper or poster bibliography
- Investigate library resources on your topic through the General Search page
- Searches general databases to find articles
- Searches the library catalog to find books
Recommended Background Sources:
2. Search databases to find article citations and abstracts
- General databases: Academic Search Premier, Research Library
- Good for background information, secondary sources, and some primary sources
- Search multiple databases at the same time through the General Search page
- Specialized biology databases: Medline, BIOSIS Previews, and Web of Science
- Good for peer reviewed resources
- MEDLINE (EBSCO) -- a medical literature database
- BIOSIS Previews (ISI) -- a multidisciplinary life sciences database
- Web of Science (ISI) -- an interdisciplinary science database which indexes top research journals
- Search multiple databases at the same time from the Biology subject page, or access the databases individually by clicking the connect link
- Search techniques
- Brainstorm search terms
- Example: heart attack
- Other term: myocardial infarction
- Example: AIDS
- Other terms: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- Truncation: using a symbol to search for all variations of a word
- Example: "biodivers*" will retrieve biodiverse, biodiversity, etc.
- Example: "agricultur*" will retrieve agriculture, agricultural, agriculturalist, etc.
- Truncation symbols: * in most databases; $ in the library catalog
- Boolean searching: using AND, OR, and NOT to combine two or more ideas or keywords
- AND: use to find sources that include all keywords; limits to a smaller number of results
- OR: use to find sources that include either one or the other keyword; retrieves larger number of results
- NOT: use to remove articles with a certain keyword from the results
- Example: To find articles on conservation efforts for the giant panda, do this search: "giant panda* AND conserv*"
- Subject headings: official vocabulary for what a book or an article is really about
- Look for subject headings as you search in the library catalog and databases
- Use subject searches to refine your results
- Example: "Pacific salmon--Effect of dams on--Snake river region (Wyo.-Wash.)"
- How to narrow your search
- Search terms in title only, instead of keyword
- Add keywords to the search and combine them with "AND"
- Common limits:
- publication date
- English language
3. Find the full article
Once you have found article citations and/or abstracts in the databases, you need to find the full article, either online or in print journals in the library.
If the database does not include the full text, look for the blue-gray "Get it @ BYU" button in the database, usually near the article citation.
- Click the "Get it @ BYU" button to get a listing of online and print access
- The article's title and bibliographic information will be listed at the top of the screen.
- Below the article information you will see either the article, the journal website, or links to the library’s resources for the journal.
- If you see the journal website, use the volume, issue, and page numbers to find the article.
- Links to "We Have a Copy" (BYU Print Journals) will take you to a library catalog record. Go to the bottom of the page and look for a call number. Go to the Periodicals room to locate the print volumes of the journal and use the volume, issue, and page number to find your article. The Periodicals room has copiers up and down the walls on both sides of the room.
- If you cannot find the article any other way, look for the link "No full text available above?" under More Options and request the article via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). The HBLL will find another library that subscribes to the journal and ask them to send it to us. You will receive an email notifying you when the electronic copy of the article has been uploaded to your ILL account.
If you find a citation outside of a database, go to the library's Journal Finder.
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How to Tell the Difference between Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Resources
Title states results or conclusions; often uses technical terminology
Title often includes words like "trends," "history," and "insights"; often easier to understand
Titles vary widely; often use non-technical language
Abstract includes experimental or observational conditions and a summary of the results
Often in review publications, like the Annual Review of Cell Biology
In a variety of publications and formats including: newspapers, magazines, websites, and most books
Often has the following sections: Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and a substantial bibliography or reference list
Extensive reference lists
No bibliography or only a few references
NOT peer reviewed
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How to Get Help
Science/Maps Reference Desk--HBLL Level 2; firstname.lastname@example.org; 422-2987. Come get help from librarians and student assistants (Hours: 8 am-9 pm, M-Th; 8 am-6 pm, F; 10 am-6 pm, S)
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