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Hamersly Library

BI 315 Cell Biology: Finding Scholarly Literature

Types of scholarly literature

The two main types of scholarly literature you will locate are primary research articles (documenting a study or experiment that is conducted by the author) and review articles (a study of other studies). Finding both of these usually starts with limiting your search to peer-reviewd articles.


EbscoHOST (Academic Search Premier, Medline, etc.)

Proquest (Biological Science)

Cited Reference Searching in Google Scholar

In looking at the relevance of any article, it is important both to consider both how many articles have cited the article you are looking at and what articles have cited your article.

The first 1 minute and 32 seconds of this tutorial from NCSU describe how to use the cited by feature in Google Scholar to determine how many and which articles have cited one you have found.

What they are

Their purpose is to share information within the subject field and they are based on original research and experimentation; in a scholarly publication, the person writing the article probably did the research they are writing about. The articles are less widely circulated than popular sources and may be understandable only to those who work or study in a particular field. In addition, scholarly sources are juried either through peer review or the referee process.

  • Peer-Reviewed: When an article is peer-reviewed, the editors of the journal wishing to publish the item send it to scholars in the relevant field; e.g., an article about Biology would go to other biologists.  These scholars provide feedback about the article's pertinence to scholarship in their field, the quality of research and presentation of findings, and more.  This ensures that the articles that wind up in academic journals have scholastic merit and contribute to the overall research in the field.
  • Refereed: A refereed article is also referred to other scholars in the field.  However, in this instance, the reviews do not know who wrote the article they are reviewing.  In addition, it is often the case that the reviewers' names are not made known to the author.  This ensures that the work is judged solely on its own merit rather than the author's reputation.  In addition, the manuscript must be reviewed by at least two other people.

Scholarly publications:

  • usually have long articles
  • have original research or results of a study done in a specific subject area, reviews of the literature, and conference proceedings
  • use technical or specialized vocabulary.
  • have articles written by scholars, specialists, or researchers in the field
  • include articles reviewed by referees and/or editorial board of experts (the authors’“peers”).
  • usually have abstracts for the articles included
  • articles have bibliographies of cited references that allow the reader to consult the same material that the author used in his/her research.
  • include charts or tables and limited black and white illustrations
  • contain little or no advertising or photographs.
  • have less frequent publication (i.e. two to twelve times per year.) 

Featured Databases

Use the following to locate schoalrly articles on your topic. Each has strengths and weaknesses and searching is a little different in each one. Biological Sciences is likely the strongest in many biology topics, though you may be surprised by what Google Scholar can offer.

About Google Scholar

Google Scholar

Google Scholar
Dates of coverage vary. (Google)   

What is Google Scholar?
Why should I search Google Scholar from the Library web site?
How can I get the full text if there isn't a link (or if I'm asked for payment)?
How do I search Google Scholar?
What does "cited by" mean?
What does "Library Search" mean?
What does "Web Search" mean?
How can I get more help?

What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar uses the popular Google search engine to enable searches for scholarly materials such as peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from broad areas of research. It includes a variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web. Google Scholar includes full text and citations. Some links to full text ask for payment.

Why should I search Google Scholar from the Library web site?
In many cases, links to full text are through subscription sources. The library subscribes to many of these sources. If you use the library link to Google Scholar, you may be able to access subscriptions already paid by the library. If you are off campus, you will be prompted for your Paw Print. If you do not use the library link for off campus access, many of these full text sources will ask for payment.

How can I get the full text if there isn't a link (or if I'm asked for payment)?

  • Search Google Scholarfrom the library web page. By searching from the library web page, you may be able to access the full text of articles which the library owns by typing in your Paw Print. Click on Find it at WOU to find out if we have the article full text online or in print.
  • If you cannot access the full text from Google Scholar, or simply have a citation for an item from Google Scholar, use WOUFinder to determine if WOU has access to an article and place an Interlibrary loan request if we do not.
  • If you have trouble locating the item, Ask a Librarian.

How do I search Google Scholar?
You may search Google Scholar just as you would search Google. Just like regular searches in Google, Google Scholar ranks and lists results according to how relevant they are to the search query. Google Scholar rankings include how often the work was cited. The most relevant references should theoretically appear at the top of the page.

To do advanced searches in Google Scholar, including searches for a particular author or in a particular journal, use the Advanced Scholar Search page.

Super-searching in Google

  • Use parentheses to group concepts or sysnonyms
  • Capitalize Boolean Terms (OR, NOT) to force Google to recognize them
  • Search for synonyms by adding a ~ (tilde) infront of a word
  • put words you want searched as a phrase in quotations
  • use intitle: to limit to searching the titles of articles
  • Use * to represent 1 or more words (e.g. "grassland * habitat")

What does "cited by" mean?
If you click "cited by," you will get a list of documents which cite the document you originally retrieved. This list only includes documents available in Google Scholar, so may exclude some citations, particularly for older papers.

What does "Library Search" mean?
Clicking on "library search" will try to locate the book in a local library. When you click on the link, you will see a record for the book. Click on "Search the Catalog at your Library" to see if we own it on campus. You will also see a list of libraries in the region which own the book. If you want to buy the book, click on "web search" to find it for purchase online.

What does "Web Search" mean?
"Web Search" starts a regular Google Search. If you have a citation, you can click "Web Search" to see if you can find the full text through a Google search.  Clicking "Web Search" for a book will take you sites to purchase the book online.