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BIOL 105: Attributes of Living Systems

Start your research with these databases:

Search Tips

Make a list of keywords for your search topic. Include:

  • Scientific names
  • Common names 
  • Higher classification of a species (e.g., class or family)
  • Synonyms
  • Similar organisms you can use as a comparison
  • Methods / equipment 
  • Connection words: impact, adapt, influence

Google or Wikipedia can be a great resource when looking for keywords!

Do a subject search paired with a keyword search, by changing the dropdown menu from "select a field" to "SU Subjects":

search in Biological Abstracts for subject "fermentation" and keyword "rice wine"

You can also add connection words, separated by the word "or" in your search query:

search in Biological Abstracts for keyword fermentation, keyword rice wine, and keywords "process or procedure or steps"

You'll find lots of links on the article record page; click on linked keywords, subjects and other articles in the record and introduction of a source. This will bring you to other articles that share these keywords.

subject data of an article, including major concepts, super taxa, taxa notes, organisms, and geographic information

Note: in Science Direct, highlight a term to create a prompt to search the database for that term.

term highlighted in science direct and a search box reading "search" popping up from the highlighted word

A peer-reviewed article has been examined by other experts in the field to make sure the research is scientifically sound. Original research published in a peer-reviewed journal will be considered peer reviewed; you can find out if a journal is peer reviewed by looking at the journal's websiteMany databases will have a "peer reviewed" filter that you can apply to your search results:

in Biological Abstracts the peer-reviewed filter appears under "limit to"

The majority of articles found in the ScienceDirect database are peer reviewed. Occasionally there are pieces in a peer reviewed journal that are not technically peer reviewed research articles, such as book reviews or literature reviews. However, if it is a research article (i.e., if it's original research) in a peer reviewed journal, then the article would be considered peer reviewed.

Google Scholar can be a great resource for accessing scientific research. Go to and enter your keywords. Use an advanced search to be more specific about which phrases you'd like included in your search. Google Search also offers useful tools, like the "related articles" link to see articles on a similar topic and the "cite" button to generate a citation in common citation styles.