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Subject Guide

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Jacob Alden Sargent
Academic Commons 220
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Databases for Biology Research

Terms to be Familiar with While Searching for Scholarly Articles

While searching for primary literature it is important to look at journals with a reputation of publishing high quality work. These tend to have high impact factors and are sometimes locked behind paywalls. At Oxy, it is possible to access papers from such journals by setting up an Interlibrary Loan account.  It is also recommended that you start reading review papers that are related to you research interests. Since most fields are rapidly producing more and more literature, you also need to pay attention to  accessing the most recently published worked in the area of your interest. Here is a quick definition of some terms that you will hear from faculty regarding searching for literature: 

Journal Impact Factor/Impact Factor: The impact factor is a measure of the frequency in which the average article in a journal is cited in a particular year. Impact factors measure the impact of the journal, not the impact of individual articles. 

Eigenfactor: A value used to rank the likelihood that a journal will be used, or how important it is(a kind of popularity index). 

H-index: The H-index is a measure of an individual's scientific productivity. 

Citation number: The number of times an article has been cited in another published work. The citation number is calculated                     using different algorithms depending on who is generating the data.

List of Review Article publishers

Biological reviews: Biological Reviews covers the entire range of the biological sciences, presenting several review articles per issue. Although scholarly and with extensive bibliographies, the articles are aimed at non-specialist biologists as well as researchers in the field. Authors are specifically instructed to be aware of this fact in their writing, and the resulting reviews serve as extensive introductions to particular fields, defining the state of the art, and drawing attention to gaps in knowledge. Articles are up to 20,000 words long and each contains an abstract, a thorough introduction and statement of conclusions.

PLOS Biology: PLOS Biology features works of exceptional significance, originality, and relevance in all areas of biological science, from molecules to ecosystems, including works at the interface of other disciplines, such as chemistry, medicine, and mathematics. We also welcome data-driven meta-research articles that evaluate and aim to improve the standards of research in the life sciences and beyond. Our audience is the international scientific community as well as educators, policy makers, patient advocacy groups, and interested members of the public around the world.

Communications biology (by Nature): Communications Biology is an open access journal from Nature Research publishing high-quality research, reviews and commentary in all areas of the biological sciences. Research papers published by the journal represent important advances bringing new biological insight to a specialized area of research. 

Cell Press Trends in series: A collection of updates opinions, reviews, and discussions in different sub divisions of Biology (see example below)

Trends in Cell Biology (Cell Press series): Trends in Cell Biology provides succinct updates, opinions, and discussions on the most exciting current research in all aspects of molecular and cell biology. Every issue of Trends in Cell Biology contains brief, readable Review and Opinion articles that keep readers up to date on the latest trends, important developments, and new ideas both within and outside their specialist area. Review and Opinion articles are commissioned from leading scientists and are then subjected to stringent peer review, ensuring balance and accuracy.

Current Opinion in Structural Biology:  Current Opinion in Structural Biology aims to stimulate scientifically grounded, interdisciplinary, multi-scale debate and exchange of ideas. It contains polished, concise and timely reviews and opinions, with particular emphasis on those articles published in the past two years. In addition to describing recent trends, the authors are encouraged to give their subjective opinion of the topics discussed.

Annual Review (series): Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society.

Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology believes that well-written review articles prove an effective device for the integration and meaningful comprehension of vast, often contradictory, literature. Review articles also provide an opportunity for creative scholarship by synthesizing known facts, fruitful hypotheses, and new concepts.  Accordingly, Critical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology publishes high-quality reviews that organize, evaluate, and present the current status of high-impact, current issues in the area of biochemistry and molecular biology.

Nature Reviews Series: Nature Review Series aims to be the premier source of reviews and commentaries for the scientific communities we serve. We strive to publish articles that are authoritative, accessible and enhanced with clearly understandable figures, tables and other display items. We want to provide an unparalleled service to authors, referees and readers, and we work hard to maximize the usefulness and impact of each article. 

Avenues to Finding Articles

Use academic databases (like those listed above, or found in the Database Finder) to execute sophisticated searches and locate relevant scholarly articles.

Identify major journal publications in your subject. Browse Oxy subscriptions to electronic journals using the links at right, or explore the metrics side of Google Scholar by looking at their Journal rankings .

Locate and browse online and print journals accessible at Oxy. Search journals as a Title in an OASys search and view the record to determine whether we have print, online access or both, and to see what years of coverage are included. Sometimes different databases include different date ranges, so look carefully. Our Journal Lists provide coverage information as well.

Finding relevant, peer-reviewed journal articles can be one of the more difficult aspects of the research process. To learn more advanced searching techniques check out the Research and Reference Guide or contact a librarian. You can email questions or use the appointment button to set up a 1-hour consultation.

Open Access Biology Journals

These open access publications may not be included in the article databases listed on this page. Searching through these resources can lead to additional articles on various biology topics.

A few of the more than 200 open access biology titles are listed below: