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Information Resources for Biology



Welcome to the APSU Library!  Below is information that you will find useful for Biology. The following information is intended to assist you in determining what your information needs are,  finding the information you need, and evaluating the information you find. Links to various library services are provided throughout this document.  You will need to follow each link to find out about that particular resource or service. Through the Ask A Librarian service, you can request assistance via email, chat, or telephone. You also have access to a librarian via telephone (221-7346 or 1-800-250-1890), via email, or in person by coming to the Library.

Information Needs

The first question you need to ask yourself is "What types of information do I need for my research project/paper?"  You have access to many types and formats of information through the APSU Library.  You may have done library "research" for other classes you have taken at APSU or other schools.  You probably had to find a certain number of articles, books, and/or web resources for your paper or project. Much of your previous research was probably done in conjunction with writing a paper that was intended to inform or analyze a particular topic.  For the purposes of this class you will have to find resources (journal articles for the most part) that are reports and findings of  research.  Professor Grah will inform you as to the specific types of resources she expects you to use for your project.  So, how and where do you find the information you need?  The APSU Library is the place to start.

What does APSU Library have available?

A good way to think of the APSU Library is as an information portal.  The Library's website is a bridge to vast amounts of information both inside and outside APSU.  Use the Library's website to find out what is available ( The Library owns or provides access to a wide variety of materials.  Austin is the Library's (Library Catalog).  It lists items that are available both physically in the Library and items that you have access to through the Library.  You can check Austin to see if the Library owns a particular book (either in print or in electronic format), a journal title (not a specific article), videos, selected government publications, websites and other materials. The Library subscribes to a number of general and specialized databases that provide you with bibliographic citations to resources, and in some cases the full-text of the resource.  Subject pages (arranged by discipline) have been developed so that many of the information resources for a particular discipline are grouped together in one place.  Now that we have determined that the place to look for information is the Library, we need to find out how we find the needed information.

Searching for information

You will find the following search protocols useful when searching for any kind of information.

  • Start with a specific topic.  Broaden or narrow it as necessary.  For example you might begin your search by searching for mycobacterium infections.  Depending on your results you may need to broaden your search to bacterial infections or narrow it to tuberculosis.

  • Use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to help construct your search strategy.  Boolean operators assist you in combining search concepts and defining your searches.  Examples:   acid rain AND fish would retrieve only information with both acid rain and fish. physicalrEndurance OR exercise tolerance would retrieve information about either topic. Anemia NOT aplastic would exclude information about aplastic anemia, but include information about other forms of anemia (such as sickle-cell and others).

  • Limit by format and material type when searching databases.  Many databases allow you limit your searches by material type and format such as journal articles, refereed publications, research, literature reviews, and many others.  Check in each database you use to see how to limit by publication type and format.

  • Use the references at the end of an article or book chapter to find other resources.  The references used by someone else in their research are extremely valuable to you.  By consulting those resources, you may find information that you may not have know about and that will improve your research.  

  • Check subject terms assigned to an article to see if there are more accurate or specific terms for your topic.  Whenever you search a catalog or database, always look at the subject terms that have been assigned to the resource.  You may find a better or more accurate subject term for your topic and improve your research.

  • If you are having trouble finding information about your topic, think of other terms to describe your topic.  Example: another way to describe longevity is life expectancy

  • If the database or index you are searching uses a controlled vocabulary or thesaurus, use it!  Your search will be much more accurate than if you use keywords.  By using the thesaurus in a database, you are using the language used by the indexers and abstractors.  Note: For new concepts or buzz words, you may have to use keyword searching because the new terms may not have made it into the controlled vocabulary of the discipline.  Also, if you are having no luck using the thesaurus in particular database, you may want to perform a keyword search and check the subject headings or descriptors used for a relevant article.


You are going to find much of the information you need for your class in research journals.  These journals are going to be indexed in various subject databases.  Databases index a variety of information including articles, book chapters, book reviews, letters, retractions, editorials, and others.  Some databases you will use contain only bibliographic citations, some include an abstract, and others include the full text of a resource. Some of the subject databases you will use in your research for this class are described in the next section.

Databases are produced by many different vendors and each vendor has their own search software.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a uniform search platform?  The search protocols mentioned in the previous section will help you to search each database effectively regardless of the vendor.

Many database vendors provide abstracts for many of the publications they index.  Be sure to read them carefully.  They can save you a lot time.  An article may seem to be perfect from the title, but may discuss something irrelevant to your topic.  The abstract helps you determine if the publication is meaningful to your research topic. The abstract is NO substitution for consulting the complete article or study.

Consult the specific databases listed below to determine which one or ones you need to use for your research topic.  You may need to consult the list of all databases to decide if there are other databases that will assist in your research.

As an APSU student you have access to databases available through the APSU Library both on campus and off-campus via remote access.  Consult the Remote Access to APSU Databases guide for assistance.

Specific Databases

Wiley InterScience covers journals published by John Wiley & Sons since 1996.  Subjects covered include Business, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Science, Education, Engineering, Finance, Law, Life and Medical Sciences, Management, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology and Statistics.  The Woodward Library does not have access to every full text article indexed in this database. Woodward Library does have full text availability of all the titles listed here.  Additionally, the online "Book "and "Reference Works" are not accessible through the Woodward Library's license agreement. "Book Finder" does provide access to chapter summaries.

Search tips:

Use the search tips available on the Advanced Search page; use Help within Wiley InterScience to learn more.

Wiley InterScience uses wildcards.  For example, carcino* retrieves carcinogen, carcinoma, etc.

You will need to install the free Adobe reader to view articles as PDF files.  Get Adobe here.

For articles not available from Wiley InterScience, check Austin for the journal title (see Accessing Articles from Periodicals for more information).

To learn about additional features and how to access Wiley InterScience from off campus, see instructions available here.

HighWire covers over 300 science, technology, and medical journals published since the 1960's.  Some full-text articles are available.  To increase your odds of finding online full-text, select In HighWire hosted journals.  You can browse journal issues.

Search tips:

Use QuickSearch for simple searches only.  Use double quote marks ("   ") to perform a search on an exact phrase.

Limit articles retrieved to review articles using the Limit Results box in Advanced Search mode.

HighWire uses wildcards.  For example, child* retrieves child, childcare, children, etc.

For articles not available in HighWire, check Austin for the journal title (see Accessing Articles from Periodicals for more information).

Use Help in HighWire to learn more.

See the Biology Resources page for other potentially useful databases.

Does the APSU Library have the periodical I need? 

The easiest way to determine if the APSU Library has the journal you need is to search Austin by title.  If you have identified an article in a periodical database or index, and the complete article is not available from that database, check to see if the needed periodical is available in print or electronically by using Find Periodicals.  

Evaluation of Information

Material that you find in Austin has been selected for the APSU Library by librarians and subject faculty using formal selection criteria and professional reviews.  Resources indexed in subject databases (PsycINFO,  ERIC and others) have met certain criteria set forth by the database publishers such as subjects covered, publication type, and others. You will have to evaluate this information further to determine if it is appropriate for your research purposes. There are various criteria to assist you in evaluating materials for your research project. Here are some links that will help you to evaluate journal articles and books.

How to Evaluate Journal Articles

How to Evaluate Books


Most of you are aware that there is some very good information, some very bad information and much in between available on the Internet.  How do you tell which is which?  As with all information that you examine for your research, you must evaluate its usefulness and relevance to your particular project. You must ask yourself questions such as who is responsible for this website?  Are they an expert in the field? Is this information relevant to my research?  Is sponsor of this website a commercial entity or an educational institution or an organization or what?  Is the information current?  Can the information be verified in other sources?  Here are a several links that will help you to evaluate websites.  

How to Evaluate a Web Page

Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages

Evaluating Web Sites

Interlibrary Loan

You may need some resources for your project that the Library does not own.  If that is the case, you need to use the Library's interlibrary loan service (ILL).  We can borrow materials that you need from other libraries worldwide.  Just fill out the online ILL form and submit it electronically. Some of you may request dissertations or theses that you find in the databases mentioned above.  Many times these documents are only available from the institution which granted the degree and can be hard to borrow through ILL.  That said, please don't hesitate to submit the request.  We may be able to borrow it.  The most important thing to remember about ILL is to plan ahead!  While we have the technology to receive articles via the internet, we still use regular (snail) mail for books and other resources.  Not all libraries that we borrow from have the technology to send articles via the internet and still use regular mail.  Plan ahead.

Citing Sources

Once you select the sources to use in your research project/paper, you will need to put them in the format that your professor requires. The Library has a link to the CBE (Council of Biology Editors) style as well as others - see Online Style Guides.


There is help available to you in a variety of ways.  The Ask A Librarian service provides help via email, chat or via telephone.  Please don't spend hours looking for something and get frustrated.  Ask for help.  That's why the librarians are here.  


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Last Updated: 30-Jul-2013 | Questions or comments to