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BIOL 212: Cell Biology

Spot the Primary Literature

In your report, you'll need to include citations to studies that support your writing, whether by providing contextual background for your hypothesis, or strengthening your interpretation of your results. You'll mostly be searching for primary literature to cite in your report, but secondary literature such as review articles can be helpful, too! Review articles can be helpful for that background information, and can also be a great source for you to find the relevant primary literature. 

It's helpful to keep in mind the differences between a primary article (presents original research findings; will almost always therefore have a 'methods' and a 'results' section) and a review article (provides an overview of already published research, and no new data; will typically not have a 'methods' or 'results' section; will often have the word "review' in the title of the article or journal). Take a look at the two articles linked below and see if you can quickly determine which is a primary article and which is a review article. 

Key Databases

Search Terms

There are a couple of aspects of successful research: knowing where to search, and figuring out which search terms to use. Below are some suggestions for useful databases to help you figure out the 'where' but before we dive into those, let's use this jamboard to think about the 'what': Fall 2021 Bio 212 -LDH Activity

Searching Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a powerful search tool. See below for tips about using Google Scholar to do cited reference searching.

Finding Full Text of Articles

There are three methods for obtaining the actual articles you wish to read:

Method 1: In some databases, you will be able to link directly to the full-text article. Look around, as different databases have different interfaces. Look for a link or buttons that says "Check for Full Text" or Download PDF or similar. If given the choice between a PDF or HTML version of the article, always choose the PDF format. This will give you an exact image, including page numbers, of the article as it appears in the paper journal.

Method 2: If a direct link to full text is not available, then check Primo Search to see if the library subscribes to the journal. Search for the title of the journal that the article was published in.

You may find that there is online access available for this journal. Check the dates that are available...most of the time the link will say "Fulltext access available from 19xx." Check to see whether the article that you're looking for was published during the date range that is available. If so, then click the 'View fulltext' link and either browse through past issues, or look for a "search within this publication" link until you find the article that you need.  You may find that Primo says the journal is available at Collins Memorial Library Print Journals, which means we have the journal physically in the library.  If the article you are looking for is only available in print in the library rather than online, in which case you  you will need to check either the current periodicals area on the first floor, or go downstairs to the basement to find the bound volumes of periodicals.  If the periodical is available only in microform, you may submit a request for electronic delivery of the article via your Interlibrary Loan account.

Method 3: If your searching indicates that the article is not available in any format, then request the article through Tipasa, your Interlibrary Loan (ILL)  account. ( Most databases include links to use ILL within each record.) It usually takes about a week or less to receive an electronic copy of the article.

And at any time if you have questions, send Eli an email! 

Google Scholar Cited Reference Search

One very useful feature of Google Scholar is its ability to allow for easily finding subsequent articles which have cited a particular article that you have located. 

Step 1: When looking at search results, check for the 'Cited by X' link underneath each result. That will tell you how many subsequent articles (that Google Scholar is aware's not 100% comprehensive! This is a ballpark figure) have cited this particular article.

  • Step 2: Click that link, and you will be taken to a new set of results, all of which have cited the original article, which will still be listed at the top of the page.