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BISC208i: Introductory Biology II

Selected databases

Subject specific databases often cover that area's literature in more depth than a multidisciplinary database.

These multidisciplinary databases cover a wide range of fields. Web of Science concentrates on the core journals in the fields, while Scopus covers a wider range of titles.. Scifinder is focused on the chemistry literature, and PubMed covers ...

Primary literature and peer-reviewed journals

Primary sources represent original research from the discovery stage to official publications:

  • R&D stage (lab notebooks)
  • Informal sharing (communication between colleagues, departmental colloquia)
  • preliminary communication (letters to the Editor, Letters Journals, Biosequence data) 
  • formalized documents (patents, conference proceedings, technical reports, dissertations & theses, journal articles)

Secondary sources organize, repackage and concentrate the published information from primary sources into: 

  • Indexes & Abstracts, Bibliographies, Databases (bibliographic, bioinformatics)
  • Handbooks, Dictionaries, Directories, Yearbooks, Almanacs
  • Encyclopedias, Treatises, Monographs or Books, Reviews

Secondary sources are where you go to find general overviews of research occurring in the field or interpretations of past research.

Is a review article considered a primary source?
No, because the authors are not reporting their own original research, but rather, they are discussing other authors' research in order to present a review of the subject area or topic.

How can I tell if a journal is peer-reviewed?

  • In a database, look for a filter that will limit the results to peer-review journals: "Peer-Reviewed Journals", "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals", or "Scholarly Journal"
  • Search for the title on the Library's E-Journals page, and look for the "Peer-Reviewed" designation.
  • Go to the journal's home page for more information about the journal.

NOTE: Not all items published in a peer-reviewed journal are necessarily peer-reviewed, for example editorials or letters.