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How to find information on all aspects of biology

Subject Specific Databases

Subject Related Databases

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is Google's version of a library database. Google Scholar searches publishers' websites, academic sites (.edu), and other "scholarly" resources. Some of our own databases are covered, so you can use Google Scholar to search ScienceDirect, JSTOR, and BioOne all at the same time. However, many of the articles are not available directly to non-subscribers. By using the Google Scholar search box on the Library Homepage, the Google Scholar with SCSU Login database link, or adding Southern Connecticut to Scholar's Preferences on your computer, you can access our subscriptions as well as whatever is free on the web. See the Guide to Google Scholar below for instructions on setting the preferences, and for search tips.

Multidisciplinary Databases

These databases cover many topics, but have selected full text from a variety of biology related journals, books, and reports. PhD dissertations and Masters theses are usually great sources for research topic ideas, literature reviews, and methods.

Finding Journal Articles

Databases are the primary way of finding journal articles. Databases consist of indexes which list information about the articles such as author, title, journal information, and subject(s). Sometimes abstracts, or summaries, are included. Some database also have the full text of the articles, in which case you can also search for keywords in the text. When the full text of an article is not available in the database, use the journal finder/Journal Title Search to find full text, search the library catalog for the journal, or request the article through Interlibrary Loan. A list of Environmental Science journals available through the library (over 200) is available through the journal finder Subject Search.

Peer-reviewed, refereed, or scholarly journals have articles that have been reviewed by experts in the field. Not all articles in peer-reviewed journals are reviewed, however. Some may be news, opinion, or short reports. Many databases are either all peer-reviewed journals or have a check box to limit a search to just peer-reviewed journals (not articles).

Which words

How do you choose search words? Here are a few ideas for searching in the sciences:


Search for concepts in any keyword search. In general, avoid searching for concepts in the Full Text of an article (stick to titles, abstracts, or keywords). Concepts represented by multiple words can be searched as phrases in many databases by using quotes: "global warming". Be sure to use additional related words and phrases: "global warming", "climate change", "carbon dioxide levels", "greenhouse gas". Search these as separate searches or using the Boolean OR if available: "global warming OR climate change". Connect separate concepts with Boolean AND to restrict your search to articles with both concepts: "global warming AND carbon offsets". Be sure to check for additional Subject Terms and Descriptors in the best results. Use those terms for further searches.


Searching for Latin (Genus species) names is the most accurate way of finding information about a particular animal or plant. Scholarly articles are also more likely to use full species names than are news articles. Searching for just the Genus name will get information on related species. If possible, use a search that covers the Abstract, not just the article title.


When searching for a particular location, you may have to search for both local and regional names (Pelham Bay, Long Island Sound, New York coast, etc.) If possible, searching the Full Text of an article for location names can be useful, as particular locations may not be mentioned in the article title or abstract.