You'll need a College of DuPage Library card in order to use most of the resources below from off campus. If your card is not working, it may need to be reactivated.
Questions? Feel free to use my contact info to the right, stop by the Reference Desk, or contact us by email or chat.
Finding a Topic
Guess what? All the usual strategies work here. Try the following if you're lost for a topic:
- Think about class topics. What were you interested in/want to learn more about?
- Google News: check for current biology headlines and trace it back to the original research article
- New York Times Science Section: published anew each Tuesday, the section details newly published interesting research.
Putting together background information:
Finding Scholarly Articles
Science Direct is a database with scholarly research and review articles. Make sure that you select "subscribed journals" when searching and use limiters (on the left side of the results screen) to narrow your search appropriately. Take a look at a sample search below:
Academic Search Complete can be another good source of research articles. Be certain that you're looking at scholarly articles here.
Your professor has asked that you critique the experiments you discover using library databases.
First, make sure that you've got a research, not a review, article. After that, turn to critiquing the article.
Research or Review article?
Worried that you might be reading a trade article from a scholarly article, or a review article from a scientific research article?
Start by looking for the distinctive markers of a scholarly article: are the authors' degrees or university affiliations listed? Do you see an abstract? How about charts, tables, graphs?
Once you are certain that you are looking at a scholarly article, make certain that your article is a scientific research article, by looking for the following distinctive sections:
- References or Works Cited
Some of these sections may be merged with other sections, have slightly different names, or may not be labeled, but all should be present in one way or another.
Review articles attempt to summarize current research on a specific topic. Authors address trends in research, including what remains to be known. Review articles will usually be marked as review articles, and usually do not follow the research article structure above. They can be wonderful sources to include in your paper, though; they'll give you a clear sense of the field as a whole, and you'll be able to see how your topic compares.
Want to take a closer look at a scholarly research article? Cladophora (Chlorophyta) spp. Harbor Human Bacterial Pathogens in Nearshore Water of Lake Michigan is found on PubMedCentral, the government-sponsored free article database.
Your professor has asked that you critique your articles based on the types of data, the control groups, the number of subjects, the variable, and overall experiment design. For example:
- Does the way that the scientists are conducting their research answer the questions they've posed?
- Do the lab techniques being used by the researchers seem to deliver good results?
- How large was their sample size? How diverse was it (if applicable)?
- Does the data presented match the descriptions of the data?
- How well does the conclusion draw upon earlier sections of the article?
Questions? Take a look at How to Read and Critique a Scientific Research Article on reserve.
Using APA Style
Find directions about how to cite your sources on the library citation guide.
Most databases will have a Cite link that you can also click to get article citations.
Finally, you are welcome to use NoodleBib if you'd like to use a program to create and organize your citations. You must "Create a New Folder" when you use NoodleBIB for the first time. Click on "I am citing a(n):," choose the type of item you are citing, and then fill in the online form. Your bibliography will be formatted for you.
Further questions about APA style? Check out the Purdue OWL APA website, which includes sample papers.
Using CSE Style
First of all, we have a copy of Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers in the library. You'll want to head to the downstairs reference desk (2nd floor, SRC, to request a copy).
There are also many websites which will help you to format your citations in CSE style. Here are some of the best:
- The website created by the authors of the book above is here: Scientific Style and Format
- University of Wisconsin at Madison's CSE Guide
- Washington State University also has a nice (color-coded!) site
- Need help figuring out how to abbreviate your journal title? Check this list sponsored by the Web of Science or this list created by Berkeley's Library.