Biology Seminar: Bio Lit

Key Databases

  • BasicBIOSIS is a subset, by journal title and year, of BIOSIS Previews. It provides information on recent developments in 96 subject areas of the biological and biomedical sciences covering more than 300 of the most prestigious journals.
  • Current Contents (ISI) is a multidisciplinary database that covers approximately 8,000 scholarly journals as well as 2,000 books and proceedings in the sciences, the social sciences, and the arts and humanities. The database provides article citations, many with abstracts.
  • Medline combines the National Library of Medicine's bibliographic database with links to the complete text of articles from leading medical journals. The database offers information related to the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, and preclinical sciences.
  • Wilson General Science Full Text is designed specifically for students and non-specialists and provides articles from popular science literature through a core collection of professional research journals.
  • Scirus is a free science-specific search engine on the web.

Search Tips

Most databases have a Guided, or Advanced, search option that will allow you to easily limit your search terms to specific fields. Boolean operators (and, or, not) are easier to use in this search mode. Additional ways to limit searches are by date, language, peer reviewed journals, and publication.

  • Refining your search: After your initial few searches, evaluate your results. Are there any aspects of your topic you need to add to your search? Make a note of the subject headings or descriptors attached to your results. You might be able to use these for additional searches. Did you receive too few results? If so, try expanding your search. Limit your search if you retrieved too many records.
  • Boolean Operator Basics: he Boolean connectors AND, OR, and NOT are often used to combine keywords or concepts when searching electronic databases. Using these operators can make your search more focused, thus yielding more precise search results.
  • AND is a connector that requires both words to be present in each record in your results. For example, searching for Livy AND historiography will only retrieve citations that include both terms. Use AND to narrow your search.
  • OR expands your search by allowing either word to be present in your search results. For example, as search on Livy AND (historiography OR method) will yield the following: All resulting citations will contain the word "Livy." In addition, all results will contain either "historiography" or "method" (or both).
  • NOT is used to exclude terms from your search. For example, if you did not want to find any references to book reviews, you could try searching for Livy NOT "book review".

I have the citation. How do I find the journal article?

  • Look for the journal title in the Journal Locator - an alphabetical list of our electronic and print journal holdings.
  • If your journal is listed, check that the issue you need is available. Journals that are available electronically have the dates of coverage listed next to the database link(s). For journals available in print or on microfilm, you will see a link to the library catalog labeled "Philip Weltner Library Print/Microfilm Holdings." This will tell you what issues we have in the library.

Additional Resources

  • Short Guide to Writing About Biology
    QH304 .P43 2004
  • Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences
    Ref. QH304 .M36 2001
  • Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Writers and Publishers
    Ref. T11 .S386 1994