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BIOA01 & BIOA02: Research & Writing Help

A guide describing how to find and use research and writing resources for your assignments.

Workshop FAQs

Literature Searching

Q: How can we filter out sources based on what we specifically need?
A: The best first step is to build a focused search that is tailored to your research topic, using biological databases like Web of Science. This will help weed out lots of irrelevant results and will save you the trouble of having to navigate through thousands (or tens of thousands!) of results as you'd typically encounter in search engines like Google Scholar. Once you've built a focused search, you can then apply filters (e.g. things like Document Type: Articles) and then review your results for relevance.


Q: How do you know which article is most relevant to your paper? / How would I use the articles to answer certain questions? / What would you suggest to help pick out the information relevant to our research?
A: I would recommend starting with a scan of article titles and abstracts in your list of results to identify potentially-relevant papers. From there, obtain full-text to review the contents of these articles. The "Results" section is particularly useful for identifying key findings of the study, which you can then compare and contrast to your own research. Learning to effectively read academic articles will take practice, as they are often complex and use scientific language that may take time getting used to - so it's normal to feel overwhelmed! My encouragement is to read through multiple times, take lots of notes, and look up any words or terminology that you find confusing. The Reading Articles page also has additional tips for reviewing studies, including a section-by-section breakdown of questions you can ask when reading journal articles.



Q: Are articles already cited?
A: You can find out if an article has been cited in Web of Science using the "Times Cited" feature of relevant articles:

Times cited feature in the Web of Science database


As a reminder, this feature is only accessing citations within the Web of Science database. Google Scholar also has a similar function when you search the title of a journal article, which will usually pull in additional results (though keep in mind that not all of these will be peer reviewed, so you will need to double-check for that using tools like Ulrich's). 

Cited by feature in the Google Scholar search engine

Q: How do you cite these different journal articles?
A: Please refer to the CSE citation resources listed on the homepage of your BIOA01 course Quercus.