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BIOL 392: Introduction to Biological Research

Research Skills

The Life Changing Magic of Wrangling References with Zotero

Zotero is a free citation management tool that can help you keep track of articles as you conduct research, and help you properly format them when writing citations. You can download Zotero and create a free account at and you can learn more about installing & using it on the 'Zotero' pages of this guide. 

  • Zotero Basics:
    • Importing items & organizing them in your library
    • Create a (free) account & sync to the Zotero server
    • Using the Word processing plugins
  • Zotero Extras:
    • Adding new citation styles
    • Google Docs Integration
    • Using Groups/sharing
    • Making notes/tags

Research Practice: Finding Known Items

Often the first step when getting started with a research project is digging into the literature, and it's pretty common to get handed a list of citations from a faculty advisor and mentor and be told to "start here!"  So how do you go about tracking down specific citations? Let's practice!

What is the fastest way for you to get access to the full-text of each article below?

1) Sangster, L., Blake, D. P., Robinson, G., Hopkins, T. C., Sa, R. C. C., Cunningham, A. A., … Lawson, B. (2016). Detection and molecular characterisation of Cryptosporidium parvum in British European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Veterinary Parasitology, 217, 39–44.

2) Derby, M. C., & Gleeson, P. A. (2007). New insights into membrane trafficking and protein sorting. International review of cytology, 261, 47-116.

3) Crane, P. (2015). Can we save the charismatic megaflora? Oryx, 49(3), 377-378.

4) Terepocki, A. K., Brush, A. T., Kleine, L. U., Shugart, G. W., & Hodum, P. (2017). Size and dynamics of microplastic in gastrointestinal tracts of Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) and Sooty Shearwaters (Ardenna grisea). Marine pollution bulletin, 116(1-2), 143-150.

5) Hobbs, W.O. & S. Wong. (2019). The Prevalence of Cyanobacteria: A historical perspective from lake sediment. Publication No. 19-03-011. Washington State Department of Ecology.

6) Lowy, J., & Small, J. V. (1970). The organization of myosin and actin in vertebrate smooth muscle. Nature, 227, 46-51.


Research Strategies

  • Where to start?

    • Look in the right places (pick your databases wisely)

    • Be thoughtful about your search terms (consider how researchers are likely to describe your topic)

  • Be thorough!

    • Search multiple databases (Google Scholar AND PubMed, etc.)

    • Don’t prioritize instant access: we can get what you need via Interlibrary Loan (usually in 1 or 2 days)

    • Bigger research ponds: visiting UW libraries is an option to get quicker access to many more resources.

  • Know how to get help!

Visiting UW-Tacoma Library

Because the University of Puget Sound is a member of the Orbis-Cascade Alliance, all Puget Sound students, faculty, and staff are eligible to visit the University of Washington and use its library resources, both at the Seattle and Tacoma campuses. This is a great resource, as the University of Washington is a Tier-1 research institution, with correspondingly comprehensive resources. If you are doing an in-depth literature search, it may be worth your time to make the short trip down to the UW-Tacoma campus to take advantage of those resources. 

Bring your Puget Sound ID card to the UWT Library for access to:

- a temporary NetID, which will allow you to access the UW wireless network (and by extension, the electronic resources available through the UW libraries),

-publicly accessible guest research computers,

-a borrower's card which allows you to check out items directly from the UWT library (though you can also request those items through Summit and have them delivered to the Puget Sound'll just take a little longer!).

Information about getting to the UWT Campus and Parking may be found here.  

Information about the UWT Library hours is available here.  

Further information about using the UWT Library as a visitor is here. If you have any questions about visiting the UWT campus, don't hesitate to get in touch with Pavel!


Chinook Red Chandelier by Dale Chihuly at the UW-Tacoma Library