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BIO110: Unity and Diversity of Life: Articles

Reading a Scientific Paper

A quick tutorial on reading and understanding a scientific paper, created and shared by Dr. Jennifer Raff, a research fellow in Anthropology at the University of Texas-Austin.  

Find and Use Databases

When looking for articles on your topic, the best way to start is to search within article databases. The Library has access to dozens of databases, which in turn index thousands of periodicals. Many, but not all, contain the full-text of articles.

Finding Databases

To find the appropriate databases, go to the Library website.

Using Databases

Once in a database, start with a KEYWORD search using words relevant to your topic. When you see an article that looks interesting, click on the title to see the complete citation. If there are SUBJECT TERMS or DESCRIPTORS, click on those that seem related to your topic to get other articles on the subject.

Some tips:

  • Not all databases have the full-text of articles. Some only provide citations and abstracts. Use the Look for full text with LinkSource icon to see if the full-text of the article is available in another database.
  • If the Library doesn't have access to a journal, you can obtain the article through interlibrary loan.
  • Almost all Library databases can be accessed from off-campus. The easiest way to do this is to use links from the Library website. You will then be prompted for your Centre ID and password to authenticate yourself as an authorized user.

Multidisciplinary and Subject-Specific Databases

These databases contain both full text and abstracts of articles covering a wide range of subjects and disciplines. Any of these databases would be a good place to begin a research project or paper.

Review Articles

Review articles provide an overview of a topic, highlighting the major work and providing many key references.