How do I find sources to learn more about a topic?
To get started, it can be helpful to learn more information about a topic before jumping right into searching for journal articles. Doing some background research and reading can save you time and help you find ways to narrow your topic down. Background research can be done through quick Google searches and reading credible websites, looking at e-book chapters, or encyclopedia entries.
It's important to evaluate the background sources you consult.
Consider who published or authored the information, what the purpose of it is, and how old is the information. This handout has more information about evaluating academic sources. Wikipedia can be useful to get to know more about topics, but should not be cited in academic assignments. Look at the references to follow the information back to the primary sources, and cite those instead.
You can also search UNB Worldcat to find related e-books and other sources on your topics:
Find Scientific (Peer Reviewed) Articles
How do I find articles for my assignment?
1. Choose appropriate databases to search. Below are database options relevant to your class. If you're not sure where to start, try searching in these suggested databases to see what comes up related to your topic. If you need to look elsewhere, consider one of the other biology-related databases.
2. Search the databases using keywords: Your goal is to find relevant articles that relate to your topic and could be a good fit to use in your paper.
Brock University Library. (2021, October 14). What's a search strategy? [Video]. YouTube. 3:30mins
The Earth, Atmospheric, & Aquatic Science Database is an interdisciplinary resource of quality, curated A&I combined with full-text content from scholarly journals, trade journals, conference proceedings, and other sources. The coverage extends Meteorological & Geoastrophysical Abstracts (MGA) by providing a sizable element of full-text access along with comprehensive discovery through the extensive abstracts and indexes structured using controlled vocabulary managed by expert editorial teams. For coverage of aquatic science, the collection features the entire range of bibliographic records from Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA).
Content Types: Scholarly Journals, Trade Journals, Books, Conference Papers and Proceedings, Government & Official Publications, Magazines, Newspapers, Other Sources, Reports, Tables, Wire Feeds, Working Papers, Video and Audio.
Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide, produced by NISC, indexes published literature (journals, monographs, proceedings of conferences and symposia, government reports, grey literature, books, theses, and dissertations) on wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Major topic areas include studies of individual species, habitat types, hunting, economics, wildlife behavior, management techniques, diseases, ecotourism, and zoology.
Permitted Use | Subscribed multi-user unlimited access | 1935 and earlier to present
Scopus, a multidisciplinary online resource, will be invaluable to students and faculty in various fields of study within the sciences, health sciences and the social sciences. Scopus offers full-text linking, abstracting-and-indexing information including peer-reviewed titles from international publishers, Open Access journals, conference proceedings, trade publications, quality web sources.
Google Scholar searches a subset of the Web that Google has classified as "scholarly literature". They do not publish a list of chosen sites, and they do not state how often sites are checked. Some important sources are not covered at all. Thus, Google Scholar alone should not be relied on for comprehensive research.
3. Review your search results: Scan through the results on the first page or so, reading the title/abstracts to find potentially relevant articles.
How do you know if an article is relevant?Just because an article is in the results doesn't mean it'll provide the information you need for your paper. Look at the article title and abstract to get a summary of what the article is about.
4. Redo your search as needed: if you're not finding relevant article try using different search terms or another database; this is completely normal and expected.
University of Arizona Libraries. (2020, April 24). Should I rethink my search? [Video]. YouTube. 3:30mins
5. Read parts of your selected articles: find a few articles that look promising, and skim read the introduction/conclusion of the full-text to decide if they're useful for your assignment. If a PDF or link to the full-text isn't readily available, click on the link to see if we have it in our collection.
How do I know whether an article has been peer reviewed?
Many databases have a "peer review" option you can select which limits your search results to articles from journals that have a peer review process. This is usually found on the left-hand side of the results page.
Not everything published in a peer review journal goes through the peer review process.
Journals regularly publish editorials, book reviews, commentaries, etc. (usually only a few pages in length which can be a good indication that your "article" hasn't been peer reviewed and isn't the type of article you should use). Consult your instructor or librarian if you're still unsure after checking whether your article has been peer reviewed.
How do I know if an article I found has come from a peer reviewed journal?
One tool you can use is Ulrichsweb. Use this to search for the journal title and if the title is there, look for this icon which indicates the journal is refereed (aka peer reviewed). You can also visit the journal's homepage and look for their About, Editorial, Author, Publication pages for wording that indicates the journal has a peer review process.
Reading journal articles can take some practice. Since they're written for other experts in a field, there may be parts of them that you don't completely understand and that's okay! Here are some tips on how to approach reading journal articles (hint - you don't have to read the whole thing, and you'll likely read!)
Western University. (2012, April 26). How to read a scholarly article. [Video]. YouTube. 2:34mins
Cite Your Sources
Style Guides & Helpful Resources
Use the information provided to you by your professor about how to cite your sources for this assignment. The following links also provide guidance on how to give credit to the authors' whose work you're using for your assignment.
For regular websites it's okay to copy the url/link from your browser and use that in your citation. When you click on it again, you'll see that it opens the page you want it to. This isn't the same when you find sources through databases, so you need to know where to find permalinks or DOIs (depending on what you need to include).
Drake Memorial Library. (2021, January 20). Find the digital object identifier (DOI) of an article. [Video]. YouTube. 1:29mins
Commons APA citing mistakes
Be careful when using citation generators from databases or websites - these are computer generated and only as good as the information available to them. Often there are errors and mistakes and it's your responsibility to make sure the citations are correct when using sources in your assignments
If you do use a citation generator, make sure it's set to APA 7 as it might not be the default
When writing out the title of an article or website name, mind which words get capitalized - only the first word in the title or subtitle, acronyms, and any proper nouns (people, places, etc.) are capitalized, everything else should be lowercase
Make sure you've looked for the DOI (or include the url if no DOI is available) and include that in your citation - many, but not all journal articles have a DOI but it's often hard to find and appears in different locations on the article
Don't cite journal articles like websites - this is an easy mistake because most articles are found online and technically are websites. You need to determine what type of source you're using before figuring out how to cite it properly. Some websites will be cited like a report, a journal article, while others get cited as websites. When in doubt, consult the manual, look for examples, or ask for help!
This is a free citation management program. This is useful for saving citations and relevant articles for different searches, and then being able to cite them in whatever citation format you want in Word or export a bibliography.
Note: Zotero is only as good as the information it pulls from the articles. Always double check the citations to ensure it has cited them correctly and they aren’t missing anything.
How do I get help if I need it?
The research process and searching for scholarly sources can be challenging, especially when you're just starting out. We don't expect you to know everything or "get it" after one presentation from a librarian. Once you start working on your assignments you may realize you need a refresher or some guidance on your specific topic.
You have a few ways to get in touch with me for help. I'm available most regular work weeks, Monday-Friday.