The research process involves knowing how and where to look for sources. The goal of this page is to orient you to some of the skills and resources that will be the most helpful for navigating your paper later in the term.
You may have learned these skills and resources in a previous class! If that's true for you, then this is a chance to refresh your memory. It is worth skimming over the content in this page to prepare for finding sources for your paper.
This guide is composed of four main sections, with brief descriptions and links to more in depth resources. Aside from this guide there are two other resources I would recommend you refer to over the course of the quarter.
Before you search for sources, take a moment to brainstorm keywords. Different researchers can use different language for the same topic, or there might be broader or more specific terms that you might want to use. Be aware of broader terms, narrower terms, synonyms, and related terms while searching. If you want to know more about this idea, you can find more in the Research Toolkit.
As a note: you do not have to have a perfect set of search terms when starting your research! Research is an iterative process and as you search you will find more and more keywords. The more you search the more you learn.
The library subscribes to many different databases, and these different databases have different types of sources and different disciplines. For your class, the most useful types of databases are interdisciplinary databases and disciplinary databases.
Interdisciplinary databases cover all sorts of topics - biology, history, art, ecology and more. They are great starting points. I recommend using the Library Catalog or Academic Search Complete. You can find more about how to use these databases on our Library Toolkit.
Subject specific databases help you find sources in a specific discipline, like biology or chemistry. There are a number of biology related databases I recommend you use for this course:
Finally, there are search engines that are not databases and are not a part of the library subscriptions. The most common one of these is Google Scholar. Google Scholar can be a great tool for finding new articles, but I recommend making sure that you connect Google Scholar to the library catalog to help locate the full text of articles.
While library databases differ in content and appearance, there are similarities you can look for to make navigating a new-to-you database easier!
Filters will let you manipulate your search results. You can manipulate results to be the "most relevant" first, or by date, or other criteria.
For several of the databases you can narrow to scholarly or peer reviewed sources only. If you are interested in the differences between scholarly and popular sources, see the Research Toolkit.
Many of the databases will direct you to the full text of the article. Look for links that say "find full text" although this link will look different in different databases.
Here are a couple examples of what this link could look like.
The following video shows how to use BIOSIS and access an article. The video is 1 minute 25 seconds long and has no sound.
The library doesn't subscribe to all journals available. If you find an article in a journal that we don't subscribe to, you can request the article from InterLibrary Loan and we borrow it for you from another library!
Citations and references are an important part of writing your paper, as you're building your research on the work of others. However, there are a lot of tools available to help you!
There are also tools called citation managers that take 95% of the detail work out of creating references! I strongly encourage you to investigate one of them.
This page is designed to be a helpful guide through the best resources and tips to help you with your paper. However you can always reach out to your librarian for more help! Contact information - and the ability to schedule a one-on-one research appointment - is in the right hand column.
You can also contact librarians who specialize in other subjects through the below channels: