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Biology 1151: Kirkpatrick

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Welcome! Click on a tab below to find books, articles, and websites for use in this course.

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

Image Credit: Lab Work, US Fish and Wildlife Service Digital Library, 2007
  1. Get Started
  2. Books
  3. Articles
  4. Scientists
  5. Websites
  6. APA Style

Getting Started: Choosing a Topic

Have a glimmer of a topic that you'd like to work on? Great! You'll want to work to narrow that topic a bit before you dive into the catalog and databases, or you will be swamped with results. You can try the following strategies to narrow a topic:

For the Subfield of Biology Project

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Learn more about the various subfields in Scientific Thought in Context. Take a look at the Table of Contents link.

Website Comparison Project

Gale Virtual Reference Library has got great entries on many of your topics.

Evaluating Websites

While you're doing Google searches to either narrow your topic or in order to dig up more information on certain subject, you want to be careful to decide if the information you find is trustworthy.

When it comes to science, nearly everyone has opinions: should we be labeling genetically modified food for consumer's awareness? What will fracking do for our economy or our groundwater supply? Your job is to evaluate the information you can find through Google for good websites--those written by authors you can trust, with good and up-to-date information. Use the CRAP test to figure out if the website is a good source.

Currency: How old is the information that is presented? Is it still accurate?

Reliability: Are there citations/references to the sources used on the website? Does the information being presented agree with the other information you've found?

Authority: Who created this website? What is their background on the topic? Are they trustworthy?

Purpose: Why was the website created? What point of view does the author have? Does that limit the facts they present or how the facts are presented?
Questions? Check out the COD Library's guide to evaluating information.

Finding Books

Once you know your topic, head to the library catalog, where you'll find print and electronic books, DVDs, CDs, and many other types of items.

  1. Since you've done your background research in a reference source (such as CQ Researcher, Gale Virtual Reference library, etc), try to search using at least two keywords.
  2. Check the format column on the left to make sure that you're getting the kinds of items you want
  3. Click on Availability to see where to find an item.


Confused? Look at the results screen.

Take a moment to look through the results. Notice that if your search is focused enough, most of your books should be in the same call number range. Head over to the shelf and start exploring.

If your search results aren't focused, click on the title of the book that best matches your research topic and look at subject terms listed. Click on the subject that most closely matches your interest to see if you can further narrow your search.

Don't know how to find books by call number? You're not alone. Stop by the reference desk to ask for help, and one of us will walk you to the right book.

Finding Articles

Now that you've got a general understanding of your topic, use at least two keywords to find journal research. Here are the top three databases to look for information:

Academic Search Complete has a mixture of popular and scholarly articles on a variety of subjects. You'll want to be sure that you're using a source appropriate for class when searching.

Science Direct is a scholarly journal article database. Use Science Direct to find current research either on a topic (for your website project) or a scientist's current research (for the subfield project).

Having trouble reading your articles? Take a look at How to Read a Research Study.

Not finding what you want? See the full list of biology databases.

Don't see the full text of an article listed in the database? Click the "Find This" link to see if you can turn the article up in another database or request it from another library.

Having trouble finding top scientists in your discipline?

Try using the following:

  • While you're in Science Direct, search for perfect research article. Now, do an author search for more articles written by that author.
  • You can also search Science Direct for a review article. Are some authors listed more frequently than others in the citations? This is another good place to start.
  • You can use Google Scholar to search on their topic and look for highly cited articles, and then do author research from there.
  • Clarivate's Highly Cited Researchers will list the top 1% of scientists by field of study, but doesn't give much context. Google researchers from there.
  • You can also browse Science Daily, which features interesting developments in scientific research. Look for articles focused on your area of biology, and then see which researchers are mentioned in the articles.
  • American Men and Women of Science is a print set of volumes in the reference section that will allow you to look up short biographies of scientists still alive chosen because of distinguished achievement, research activity or administrative responsibility in science. For names, look under biology-related subcategories in v. 8. You can then search for the scientist in a database or in the catalog for more information.

Once you've identified two scientists in your area of study, try using the following strategies to discover more about them:

  • Try using Google to search for your subject. See if you can find a university page, a professional website, even a Twitter account. A professional website can teach you a lot about your scientist, including their career trajectory, grants they've received, and even free copies of their research papers. For example, see botanist Hope Jahren's website.
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  • You can then search by author in Science Direct to find your scientists' research articles.

Citing in APA Style

Find directions about how to cite your sources on the library citation guide.

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 Sample APA Paper for a sense of what your finished paper should look like.

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