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Information resources, tools, and links to help you research topics in Biochemistry.


Have a research assignment to do?

  • Go to Understand Your Research Assignment to get some general tips to help you get started.

Have a different type of writing project to complete?

Understand Your Research Assignment

Where to begin?

Read your assignment carefully and make sure you understand your Professor's instructions and expectations. Be sure to note any date or material type restrictions. (Example: Use only peer reviewed journals, locate articles from the past three years that explore.., etc.)

Next, follow your interest!  Brainstorm ideas about the topic of your assignment or research.  Try to make it something that sparks your curiosity or that you can relate to.  It will make your research more fun!

Then, think of some key words to describe your topic using both commonly used words as well as terms that may be used specifically in your subject (Example: in human anatomy, the word "eye" is commonly used but "ocular" and "ophthalmic" are other terms).

Now, it is time to do some reading and searching on your topic so move on to Finding Sources (below). 

Don't forget, if you get stuck at any point, you can always schedule an appointment with an Oxy librarian.

Finding Sources

Finding sources (like articles and books) in databases is a lot like online shopping: you use a combination of keywords and filters to help you narrow down what you're looking for.  If you don't know much about your topic, start by looking for articles and books in Oxy OneSearch (our library catalog) or Google Scholar.  Once you have more knowledge about your topic, use the databases recommended in this Guide to access peer-reviewed or other scholarly material.  Navigate to the type of source you're looking for by using the menu on the left.

Types of Sources

These are the main types of information sources that you will encounter in your research:

  • Manuscript/Research article: A formal research article that is submitted to the editor of a journal for publication, peer-review and/or to a preprint repository.  It reports the results of original research and assesses its contribution to the body of knowledge in a given area.  See "Format of Research Articles" below.  Considered a primary source article.
  • Review article: An article that synthesizes and evaluates information from several primary articles.  It does not describe original research conducted by the author(s). Instead, it gives an overview of a specific subject by examining previously published studies on the topic. By interpreting the findings of previous studies, review articles are able to present the current knowledge and understanding of a specific topic.
  • Peer-reviewed article: A manuscript or review article that has gone through an evaluation process in which independent expert scholars critically assess the quality and scientific merit of the article and its research.
  • Preprint: An article that has not yet been peer-reviewed. Repositories like arXiv, bioRxiv and medRxiv house pre-print articles to allow for immediate access to research. It is the responsibility of the user of such preprints to vet the information in them and to regularly monitor the preprint repository to follow the status of the preprint.
  • Case Report: Typically used in medical related fields.  It is a detailed report of the diagnosis, treatment, response to treatment, and follow-up after treatment of an individual patient or up to several patients.  It is used to describe a rare or unique condition or unexpected associations or findings.
  • Conference Proceedings: In certain disciplines like Computer Science, Mathematics, and some sub disciplines of Cognitive Science, and Physics, conference proceedings are peer reviewed by conference committees and are considered equal to the process of peer review by a journal. This can be confusing since in other disciplines conference proceedings are not used or cited in scholarly wiring. When in doubt ask your professor for clarity.
  • Dissertations and theses: Dissertations and theses are reviewed by committee members of the authors and while they are useful in research, most science scholars will recommend using the peer-reviewed papers published from these documents rather than citing the document itself. Again, there are disciplinary differences and when in doubt, reach out to your professor for clarity.
  • Popular media/commercial websites: online resources where individuals share their personal opinions and interpretations.  It is the responsibility of the reader/user to verify content before sharing it any further.

Source Evaluation with RADAR

Found a source, but not quite sure if it fits your assignment? You can use the RADAR (Rationale, Authority, Date, Appearance, Relevance) framework to evaluate it.

*Remember that every source has its use, so investigate each source you encounter in both the context of its creation and its potential use in your work.*


  1. Why did the author or publisher make this information available? 
  2. What tone is used?
  3. What is the source's bias? How does it impact the presentation of information?


  1. What are the author's credentials?
  2. What is the author's affiliation?
  3. What can you find out about the publisher? 


  1. When was the information published or last updated?
  2. Have newer articles been published on your topic?
  3. Are links or references to other sources up-to-date?


  1. Do the citations and references support the author's claim? Are the references correctly cited?
  2. What do other people have to say on the topic? Is there general agreement among subject experts?
  3. Was the item published by a peer-reviewed journal, academic press, or other reliable publisher?


  1. Does the information answer your research question and fit your assignment?
  2. Is the information too technical or too simplified for you to use?
  3. Who is the intended audience?


Advanced Research Strategies and Citation Management

Please follow this link for more advanced Research Strategies including information on Citation Management.