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Biology Resources: Articles

Databases for Biology

Searching for Scholarly Articles

How can you tell if a journal article is scholarly? The top literature in any field is published in peer-reviewed journals by scholars, who are typically professors and experts with PhDs. This literature is written for scholars in the same field, as well as students studying the subject, so the content may be difficult to read and comprehend without getting some background information on the topic. (See the Reference tab before you dive into scholarly articles.)

To access a journal article in most of the library's databases, you will either find a PDF file or a link that says Lycoming Availability. If you see this link, click on it to see if it's available locally or if you will need to request the article through Interlibrary Loan, a free service that allows us to request materials from libraries around the world.

Search Tips


Keywords are the words that most accurately describe the topic you want. As you search, look in the records you find for additional or more exact keywords or phrases to use.


Think about different words an author might have used.

AND, OR, NOT, Quotes and Asterisks

Use these special words ("operators") to connect your keywords

  • AND: results must include both words.
  • OR: results can contain either of the words. Use to link synonyms.
  • NOT: results include one word and not the other.
  • Quotes: (in most databases) the quoted words must appear together.
  • Asterisk (Shift + 8): (in most databases) look for all variations after the *.

Limit your Search

Depending on the database, this could be searching by Title, Author or Publication Date. Also look for Descriptors or Subject Terms assigned to relevant articles, then search by those terms.

Ask a Librarian

Don't hesitate to contact a librarian if you are having difficulty finding relevant articles. For more information, see the Home tab of this subject guide.