Skip to Main Content

BIOL 225 Thomson: Find articles in library databases

Resources and information for BIOL 225, Organismal Biology, with Prof. Thomson

Locating databases on the library's webpage

To access any of Cañada Library's Databases like ProQuest Natural Science, go to the Library's homepage and select the Articles tab. Once selected, click on the database name you would like to access from the Browse Databases From A-Z pull down menu.

(Or use one of the links from the box below)

Databases for biology

Databases are library-lingo for searchable collections of articles from magazines, academic or scholarly journals, professional journals, newspapers, chapters in ebooks, and more. They each have their own scope and specialties.

These are best for searching for scientific articles on biology:

General Databases

Science Databases

Scientific journals

If you want to go directly to a technical scientific journal, these are major sources for biological research:

Searching tips and techniques

Word choice matters. Be specific, and make good use of scientific names!

The real art of searching is in finding just the right search keywords and phrases (like in the story of Goldilocks, not to narrow and not too broad but just right). Computers can be frustratingly literal. For example, searching for checkerspot  can get you any of the 27+ different types of butterfly with this name, and also the Checkerspot Brewing Company. 

There are also many different common names for the same organism (some call these fritillary butterflies - and to a computer, that's a totally different name). 

Luckily, scientific nomenclature is exactly designed to avoid that confusion! Searches for Euphydryas editha bayensis will retrieve just the Bay checkerspot butterfly in research studies.

Word placement matters when it comes to searching.

That is, if your search word or phrase is in the  article title and/or abstract chances are better that article is really about that topic, and your word or phrase isn't just in a sentence at the bottom of the last paragraph.  Remember the anatomy of a scientific article, and how the abstract is the author's summary of what's important about their article? Likewise, if a word or phrase is used as a subject or keyword, that indicates its importance.

If you are getting too many results from a search, try specifying that your word or phrase has to appear as a keyword, as subject, or in the abstract. If you have the option of searching in Advanced mode, you can usually tell the search engine to find your term(s) in a specific location, and not just anywhere in the article. ProQuest's "Anywhere except full text" location works similarly.

(Why not in the title also? Sometimes short or catchy titles leave out important terms, like "How to misidentify a type specimen" which is all about classifying the San Francisco garter snake.) 

California quail (Callipepla California)

California quail (Callipepla caifornica) on UCSC campus

Photo Ian Poellet, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia commons