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BIO 501 — Biological Literature


Contact Information

Caroline Bordinaro


Concepts and Questions for Beginning Research

Search Help

Finding Journal Articles

Finding Books in the Library

Inter-Library Loan services

Finding Quality Websites


Just for Fun - Water Bears (Tardigrada)

Concepts and Questions for Beginning Research
  • Where to Start?
    • What's your research question?
    • What information do you need to find?
  • Who cares about the same information? (e.g.: researchers, practitioners, government, etc.)
    • What kind of information do they need?
    • Where would they get it?
  • Types of information available
    • Books
    • Articles from journals, magazines and newspapers
    • Websites
  • How to Find an Article On Your Topic: Click here for more tips, tricks and advice
  • What is a primary source? What is a secondary source? Click here to find out

Search Help

Creating an effective online search:

  1. Take your research question and circle the "action words"
  2. Think of at least three synonyms for each action word
  3. Use these words in various combination to get a good result (between 15-40 results is optimal)
  4. Combining keywords
    • AND: use to add words to results (tardigrades AND hibernation)
    • OR: use for syonyms or alternate words (Ornithorhynchus OR platypus)
    • NOT: eliminates any results containing word (emissions NOT smog)

Search Concepts:

  • Phrase searching ("water bears")
  • Advanced Search: Use this frequently to determine your search options. This will save you TIME and FRUSTRATION!
  • Find subject headings attached to useful article citations, and redo your search with these controlled vocabulary terms
  • Remember, the more words you use to search or the more limits you place on a search, the fewer results you will get. (How can you get more results?)

More Search Tips:

  • Always use the Print and Save functions embedded within the screen. It is usually not a good idea to use the File-Print or File-Save As functions in the upper left hand corner of the browser.
  • Use the online HELP screens - they really are helpful!
  • If you can't find anything: don't freak out and go to Google! Ask a reference librarian for help.


  • DATABASE: An organized collection of electronic information, such as photographs, addresses, or journal articles.
  • ONLINE JOURNAL INDEX: A database that contains magazine, newspaper and journal articles, e.g: Academic Search Premier. AKA Subscription Database.
  • SCHOLARLY JOURNAL: Also called academic or refereed journal. Articles usually reviewed by experts in the field before publication, published for a research audience, narrow focus, e.g.; Molecular Endocrinology
  • MAGAZINE: Publication of general interest: popular interest and broad subjects (e.g: Psychology Today)
  • SUBJECT HEADINGS : Also called descriptors. Official terms used to classify items in a database.
  • THESAURUS: List and finding aid for official controlled vocabulary terms. Also called Topic Index or Subject List.
  • ABSTRACT: a brief summary of the main content of an article
  • FULL TEXT: the complete article. Click on the FindItCSUDH button to see if the Full Text is available.
  • CITATION: The basic information you need to find the full text of an article. It includes the title of the article, the author, the name of the publication, the date, the volume and issue number and the page numbers.

Finding Journal Articles

NOTE: Except where noted, these indexes must be accessed through the library home page at library.csudh.edu. Under Articles, E-books, Online Scholarly Resources, you may either browse by subject area or go to your favorite resource using the Alphabetical List.

  • Science Direct: hundreds of earth science articles, all from refereed publications.
  • Biological Abstracts: Life science and biomedical research literature published from more than 4,000 journals from as far back as 1969.
  • PubMed Central: (free website) the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. Use the Advanced Search feature for more flexibility with your search.
  • JSTOR: indexing and full text of back issues of peer reviewed journal articles on a wide range of Humanities subjects.
  • Google Scholar: (free website) search across many disciplines and sources -- peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, abstracts and articles, from academic publishers, professional societies, universities and other scholarly organizations. Click here for a tutorial.
  • TOXNET: Databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases.
  • GreenFile: Indexing for scholarly, government and general-interest journal articles in global climate change, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more.
  • AGRICOLA: encompasses all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines, including animal and veterinary sciences, entomology, plant sciences, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries, farming and farming systems, agricultural economics, extension and education, food and human nutrition, and earth and environmental sciences.
  • Springer Link: search for articles in scholarly journals in the earth and environmental sciences, biomedical and life sciences, and other disciplines.

These databases are not specifically biology-related, but they may list articles on your topic:

  • Academic Search Premier*: includes articles from trade publications, reports, magazines and newsletters, as well as scholarly journals.
  • Wiley Online Library: Full text of over 300 leading scientific, technical, medical, and professional journals.
  • Lexis/Nexis: Excellent resource for national and international newspapers, magazines, journals, transcripts, etc.
  • Wilson OmniFile*: (Now through EBSCO) indexes all types of publications in many disciplines. Includes full text for many articles.

*To limit search to peer-reviewed journals only, look for check box next to Peer-Reviewed, Scholarly Journals, or Academic Journals on database search screen (may be in Advanced Search)

BONUS!! Check out the e-book "How to Read A Paper" on various types of research articles and what to look for in them.

Having trouble logging in? Click Here

Finding Books in the Library

Go to TOROFIND: the CSUDH Library Catalog and search on the title, author, subject or keyword. Look not only for that specific call number, but also check out the books in that section.

  • If you don't see the right item listed, or want more titles, try an on a few keywords (in separate boxes).
  • If you still don't find the right book, ask a reference librarian.

Inter-Library Loan services

If you need an item that we don't have or can't access, you can use our Inter-Library Loan (ILL) service.

When you request a book or article through ILL, we will send a request to the closest library which owns a copy.  Due to cooperative agreements, we can usually get the item you request sent to us for you to borrow for free. (Some lending libraries do charge for the service).

Note, however, that ILL can take anywhere from 2-7 business days, and occasionally longer.  Don't wait until the last minute and assume we can still get it for you in time!

You can access the ILL forms on the ILL web page or by clicking the "Inter-Library Loan" link on the library's home page. If you have questions, please ask the librarian at the reference desk.

Finding Quality Websites

These are indexes and recommended links to quality web sites that have been reviewed by librarians. The sites have been checked for accuracy, timiliness, stabilty, and will generally conform to the standards of academic research. However, please be judicious in the use of websites in general, because anybody can put anything on the web.

  • Infomine (infomine.ucr.edu): A project from the Univeristy of California and other universities, it is a searchable index of websites specifically appropriate for university research. Click on SocSci & Humanities to search their specialized index.
  • ipL2: Index of websites reviewed by librarians, geared toward the general public. Choose a topic from the index or use Advanced Search to search for keywords.
  • BEN BiosciEdNet, the digital library portal for teaching and learning in the biological sciences. It is the official National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Pathway for biological sciences education
  • National Science Foundation
  • FASEB: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the nationís largest coalition of biomedical researchers, representing 26 scientific societies and over 100,000 researchers from around the world.
  • American Institute of Biological Sciences: a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education.
  • Cleveland State University Biology Subject Portal: a collection of recommended links and resources from the librarians at Cleveland State University. Remember, any library resources recommended are at the CSU library. Ask a librarian at CSUDH for assistance.
  • Evaluating Information on the Web: This is a very good checklist from the Pasadena City College Library for judging the quality of not only information on the Internet, but any information you may want to use for an assignment.

  1. Finding journal articles using Academic Search Premier (advanced search/retrieval methods, Interlibrary Loan)
  2. Accessing databases from off campus
  3. What is a Literature Review?
  4. Searching Google (section from handout) (advanced Internet search methods)
  5. OR click here to download ALL FOUR GUIDES with BONUS MATERIAL! (10pgs.)

Just for Fun - Water Bears (Tardigrada)