Subject Guide: Biology

Biology

A step-by-step approach for finding secondary and primary literature in all areas of Biology and related disciplines.  

Questions? Please contact me (engelk@grinnell.edu).

Evaluate

… questions to ask about the information you find; how appropriate and valuable is the information?  A worksheet to go along with the questions.

This is the most important part of any search for information!

Take charge of the information in your life
Seek information, not affirmation
Source + Motivation = Value

Dig deeper–do not rely on just one source
Understanding is key


Primary and Secondary Literature:

Secondary literature looks like this or this …
Primary literature looks like thisthis, or this … (note the format–IntroductionMethodsResultsDiscussionReferences)
 
*Recorded session for an introductory Biology class (college level) on how to search for, choose, and obtain academic information (primary and secondary literature) in the Life Sciences. This class especially focuses on searching for information about the model organism, Arabidopsis thaliana, and how it reacts and responds to environmental stress —
 
How to use and understand primary literature?
Please be aware when searching for information —
 

Define

Research question/understand and define a topic
… what is the question(s) you are trying to answer? These secondary sources can help you —
*topic ideas
*understand concepts
*answer fact questions
*discover search terms, phrases, and names
*focus a research question
Remember, true research is rarely a straight path.
 
Science Connections
Good sources to help you understand and link to primary literature:
Science News
New Scientist
Scientific American
New York Times
The Washington Post

Review sources:
Science Bibliographies (Strategian)
Annual Reviews
Trends in …
 
Other sources:
Plants Database
U.S. Department of Agriculture
 
Arabidopsis Book
Open-access peer-reviewed online journal covering a broad range of topics in research on Arabidopsis thaliana and related species, supported by the American Society of Plant Biologists.
 
ATSDR Toxic Substances Portal (CDC)
… information about toxic substances and how they affect our health …
 
Bean Beetles
Provides basic information about raising, handling, and maintaining cultures of bean beetles, Callosobruchus maculatus, for faculty who teach undergraduate laboratory courses.
 
DailyMed
In-depth information about marketed drugs; National Library of Medicine.
 
Drugs, Herbs, and Supplements
MEDLINEplus — United States National Library of Medicine; a guide to thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and herbs and supplements.
 
Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy Resource is highly recommended
For easy-to-understand, authoritative information about human diseases and disorders.
 
NCBI Bookshelf
The full text of 900+ well-known biology and other science textbooks, reports, and other materials.
 
Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD)
SGD is a database of the molecular biology and genetics of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is commonly known as baker’s or budding yeast.
 
Taxonomy Database
Database maintained by the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Library of Medicine, providing classification and nomenclature for all of the organisms in the public sequence databases, representing about 10% of the described species of life on the planet.
 
WormBook
WormBook is a comprehensive, open-access collection of original, peer-reviewed chapters covering topics related to the biology of Caenorhabditis elegans and other nematodes.”
 
Xenbase
Xenbase provides “the international research community with a comprehensive, integrated and easy to use web based resource that gives access to the diverse and rich genomic, expression, and functional data available from Xenopus research.” 
 

Identify

Identify
… these sources can help you find evidence to answer your question or validate/invalidate an answer.
 
OKAY: Google Scholar
Use the “Advanced Search”; can also be used as a tool to focus a broad search (try out search terms, find a possibility, search that possibility in a disciplinary database, and then use the indexing to more precisely find additional papers).
 
BETTER: Science Primary Literature 
Includes articles, book chapters, and images that have been used and cited by multiple college students and have been highly cited in the scientific literature. Links to full text are provided; some full text is directly available.
 
Database help

Bean Beetles
Bean beetles (seed beetles; Callosobruchus maculatus)
 
Saccharomyces Genome Database (SGD)
SGD is a database of the molecular biology and genetics of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is commonly known as baker’s or budding yeast.
 
WormBase
Index of scientific literature concerning the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans.
 
Xenbase — search
Xenbase provides “the international research community with a comprehensive, integrated and easy to use web based resource that gives access to the diverse and rich genomic, expression, and functional data available from Xenopus research.”
 
“PubMed® comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites”
 
Before 1000 BCE to the present. Catalog of millions of books, web resources, and other materials held in libraries worldwide, maintained by OCLC.

Locate

Locate
If the full text is not directly available above, these are the quickest ways to check if you have access to a source —

Google Scholar

 
 

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