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Biology: Find Articles

Popular or scholarly?

The library's databases include popular publications like newspapers and magazines and scholarly (academic) and professional journals as well. What's the difference? The audience for a popular publication is the general public. The information may be excellent, and often is in the publications the library subscribes to. In fact, popular science publications often report on the reports and studies published in academic science publications. Check your assignment to see which kind of information sources you are required to use for your assignment. 

How can you tell if a source is popular or scholarly? Look at the title and description -- you might have to Google the magazine and check its homepage. Chances are if it is called a journal it is scholarly or professional. If you're still not sure, ask us

Keywords Are Key!

moon with misty clouds in front

Image by RSvB is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

When you search in academic databases including MCC Library OneSearch, keywords give you the best search results. Next time you search, instead of typing in a long phrase such as "all the research that shows evidence to prove there's no life on the moon,"  try keywords.

A better search about lunar life would use keywords and look like this:

"life on the moon" and research

How to Read a Scholarly Article

You do not have to read every word of a scholarly article--especially at first. Start with the abstract, then scan the introduction. This 5 minute video outlines a strategy for reading scholarly articles.

Searching for a particular article

How to find peer-reviewed journal articles

In the peer-review process, in addition to a journal's editorial staff reading a submitted article, a panel of the author's peers who work or do research in the same field also read the article to verify that the work meets the standards of that field. 

To limit your search results to peer reviewed articles, look for a box to check on the results page. It might be in different locations for different databases:

An example in the search results page:           An example on the search box page:       

Search results example                    Search box example                     

Sometimes when you look at an article there is an indication of whether the journal is peer reviewed, but sometimes you might have to Google the journal -- you can look for "About" or "Submission Guidelines" on an journal's website to see if they use peer review when accepting articles. If you're still not sure, ask a librarian or your professor. We are glad to help!

Online Databases

These databases should have information for your biology and ecology assignments. See also search tips and techniques or a complete list of library databases.

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