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Scientific Research in the Biological Sciences

Tips for Finding Articles

Articles about this subject can be found in publications from a wide variety of disciplines. Use the databases on this page to get access to thousands of articles examining the subject from different perspectives or browse the key publications shown.

If the full text of an article is not available in a database, click on the sfxfind icon to find other options for getting the article.

Scholarly Journals

Journals, a subset of what we call periodicals or serials, are the most significant type of primary literature. The peer review process, by which articles are evaluated prior to publication, gives these journals unique status and legitimacy among the primary literature formats. Although newspapers and magazines are also periodicals, they are published for a broader and more popular audience and are not peer-reviewed. In addition, their content is often secondary literature, i.e. about the research of others rather than the original reports. The scholarly journals are the major focus of the library literacy section of BI107/BI108.


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     Peer Review (3 minute video)  

Key Journals in Biology

Multidisciplinary Science Journals - the three most significant!

Nature and Science contain both primary and secondary literature. Use the table of contents in these journals to identify primary and secondary literature.

  • Nature
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA
  • Science

Biological Sciences

Most influential journals dealing with multiple levels of biological activity

  • Cell
  • FASEB Journal
  • Proceedings: Biological Sciences

Ecology, Evolution, and Animal Behavior (first tier journals)

  • Animal Behaviour
  • Behavioral Ecology
  • Biological Conservation
  • Conservation Biology
  • Ecological Monographs
  • Ecology
  • Ethology
  • Evolution
  • Evolution and Development
  • Journal of Ecology
  • Oecologia
  • Oikos

Ecology, Evolution, and Animal Behavior  (second tier journals)

  • American Midland Naturalist
  • American Naturalist
  • Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
  • Evolution and Human Behavior
  • Functional Ecology
  • Journal of Animal Ecology
  • Journal of Applied Ecology
  • Journal of Chemical Ecology
  • Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
  • Journal of Molecular Evolution
  • Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • Microbial Ecology

Plant Biology  (first tier journals)

  • American Journal of Botany
  • Annals of Botany
  • International Journal of Plant Sciences
  • Plant Science

Plant Biology  (second tier journals)

  • Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society
  • Economic Botany
  • Environmental and Experimental Botany
  • The Plant Cell
  • Taxon

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Review Articles are a type of secondary literature because they summarize and point to the primary literature very soon after it has appeared. They are excellent background material, because they pull together all the latest research on a topic. Annual volumes devoted entirely to review articles, such as the titles below, are available in most disciplines. To search for review articles included in journals, add "review" to your keywords.

  • Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
  • Annual Review of Environment and Resources



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