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BIO 3120 :: Manuscript assignment

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Watch a short video tutorial on embedding library research guides into D2L.

Starting out

Before searching the databases, consider:

- What is your research question?
- What information do you want to convey to your readers?
- How will the professional literature augment what you will be writing about in your manuscript?

For example:

- Is there more than one luciferase gene in Photinus pyralis?
- What role does luciferase play in Photinus pyralis?
- Have other studies examined luciferase activity? Did any of these studies examine the effect of temperature and/or pH on the activity of this enzyme?

Need some background on luciferase?

Read this brief overview from the Protein Data Bank:
7 suggested databases - pick 2 or 3 to try

(1) Biosis Previews,
(2) Zoological Record

Biosis Previews includes scientific literature (scholarly articles, conference proceedings, patents, etc.) covering the breadth of the life sciences disciplines (botany, ecology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, zoology, etc.).

Zoological Record contains scientific literature with a focus on animal biology and related fields.

Both of these databases are indexes -- they include records of the published literature and will help you locate full-text documents. Use Get Full Text icon to locate your article.

The Basic Search operates much like a Google search: your search is free-form and results are relevancy-ranked. By default, related terms are included in a Basic Search, so word variants are also included in results (e.g., singular and plural forms of a word; some scientific and common names will be included in results if you use one or the other as your search words).

Basic Search screen shot

Use the Multi-Field search to wield more control over your results: limit your search words to appear only in the title of results, or search by author, species (organism), or gene name. Results are displayed with the most current items at the top of the page, and it is not possible to rank your results by relevancy.

Multi-Field Search screen shot


(3) PubMed

PubMed is a free search portal provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessing full text requires subscription (via Booth Library), although some content is made freely available due to government open access policies. Use the "Available @ EIU" filter, as shown in the screen shot above, to see only results with full-text content available to campus users. PubMed searches the biomedical literature.


(4) Biological & Agricultural Index Plus,
(5) Academic Search Complete

In comparison to Biosis Previews, Biological & Agricultural Index Plus is a smaller database with exclusive focus on the life sciences literature. Simultaneously search it and Academic Search Complete, which is a multidisciplinary database with some coverage of the scientific literature. Some full-text content is available in these databases.



Like Academic Search Complete, JSTOR is a multidisciplinary database. JSTOR is short for Journal Storage. This database contains deep backfiles of scholarly literature that has been retroactively digitized for easy access. Locate articles published all the way back in the 1800s through to the present. Recently published articles may be embargoed (full-text access withheld for the most current 6 months to 5 years, or occasionally longer).

Use JSTOR to find "the basics" of the scientific literature: in earlier publications, scientists reported on more rudimentary scientific principles as compared to the more complex research articles that are published today.


(7) Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches only the scholarly literature, and results include journal articles, book citations, and more, with the occasional high school science project finding its way into the mix. Advanced search functionality is much more primitive than the above-mentioned library databases, and results tend to focus on quantity over quality. Nonetheless, Google Scholar can be a useful resource in locating scientific literature. Use it in combination with library databases to optimize your search results.

When off campus, link into Google Scholar from Booth Library (use the link above or find it on our A-Z database list). You'll have to sign in using your EIU NetID and password. Then, you'll have full access to hundreds of electronic journal subscriptions in addition to content that's available on the free web.

Access the interlibrary loan article request form here.
Subject Specialist
Picture: Kirstin Duffin

Kirstin Duffin
Librarian Liaison for Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geology/Geography
Office: 217 581-6006

Reference Desk: 217-581-6072
Email the Reference Desk

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Here's a quick way back to this research guide:
Format your manuscript
See your assignment instructions for detailed information about formatting your paper. Also consider these additional sources of information:

Read Cell's instructions for authors to learn about how to prepare each section of your paper.

Take a look at articles published in the journal Cell to see examples of proper formatting in published articles.

Have you taken BIO 1150 Bio Forum? Use Mendeley to format your citations. (Save all your sources to your Mendeley library!) In Mendeley's Microsoft Word plugin, install the style for Cell. Choose "More styles" from the Style drop-down menu.

Recommended reading
Want to do more background reading on enzymes? Browse the QP601 section of the Booth Library book stacks (on the first floor).

Here's one recent book on the topic:

How enzymes work: from structure to function
Call Number:
QP601 .S89 2015x

For guidance on writing in the biological sciences, see:

A short guide to writing about biology
Call Number:
QH304 .P43 2010

A student handbook for writing in biology
Call Number:
QH304 .K59 2009

Writing in the biological sciences: a comprehensive resource for scientific communication
Call Number:
QH304 .H64 2016

Writing papers in the biological sciences
Call Number:
QH304 .M36 2012
Use "Get Full Text" to locate articles
When searching different databases, if you see the "Get Full Text" icon, it will lead you to the full article within a few clicks or provide you with a way to request it for free within a few days. 

Ask a Librarian for help with accessing an article, or with any other question you have. Feel free to contact Kirstin Duffin, your subject librarian, directly at kduffin{@}
Additional sites
Online resources may be used to generate some of the information (e.g. pI, MW, amino acid sequence). Useful websites include (but are not limited) to the following: