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BIOL 3107 Fall 2023 Library Session

Review assignment criteria

  • What are you being asked to do?

  • What are your deliverables?

  • When are they due?

  • What resources do you need to succeed?   

Manage your research

Citation management software

Citation management software allows you to save and organize items found via searching the library's databases. It also can be used to create reference lists and citations for papers. There are a number of software systems available

Two of the most popular free software management systems are: 




Types of information & where to find them

Flow of Scientific Information

Originally created by Jim Parrott.
Adapted by Jackie Stapleton, University of Waterloo, 2007.

Used with permission.


A Rough Guide to the Types of Scientific Evidence 

provides more examples and details on the types of scientific evidence you might encounter in your research.

Never pay for access to a journal article!

Interlibrary loaning a journal article is quick, easy and free (to you). Articles often (but not always) arrive within a few days, delivered by PDF to your email!



General PubMed search tips

  • Use search terms that are as specific as possible, but don't use quotation marks, operators, punctuation, or tags.

  • You may limit to the year on the left. After doing so, change "Sort by" to "Best Match" to see the most on-topic results first.

  • Try a MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) search.

  • Select "Abstract" view under "Display Settings" to see full text MRU links (the "Look for a copy" button)

  • You may wish to use the Article Types limit on the left to see only certain types of article: List of PubMed article types

  • Once you find a good article, you can use it to find others:  In PubMed you can look at the "Similar Articles" section of the article page.  You can review the citations at the end of the article you have found for the resources the author used.  You could also copy and paste the title into Google Scholar to find related and subsequent research.

PubMed tutorials and video tours


General Scopus search tips

  • Start with your most broad search terms and narrow from the results list.

  • You may limit to specific journals using the Source title option (eg. "American Journal of Physiology").

  • It is possible to add a date range on your original search entry page i.e. Published from [year] To [present] (you can also limit by date later in the search process).

  • Use Search within results box on the left side of the results page to limit by species, system, physiological process etc. Add one topic at a time and review results after each search.

  • The Refine Results options on the left side of the search results page can be used to limit to specific YearDocument type (e.g. Article), and Language. Note, all abstracts in Scopus are in English, but not all articles are necessarily in English.

  • Sort on Relevance to see the results most related to your search terms at the top of the list or Date (newest) to see the most recent articles on your topic at the top of the list.

  • Remember this is not a full-text database you will need to link out to the article and you may even need to use Interlibrary Loan to obtain a copy of it.

Beware Retractions!

Could I use the following article in my assignment?

Chen, C., Lin, B., Wang, M., & Yang, C. (2022). Prognostic Role of Biomarkers for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension Associated with Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia in Extremely Premature Infants. Applied Bionics and Biomechanics2022.

You can find out more about retractions from Retraction Watch and you are able to search for retracted articles in the Retraction Watch Database

Your Textbook!

Dictionaries and encyclopedias: 
For definitions and background information try the resources on the Background Sources page of the Biology Subject Guide.

--> Remember you can limit to Reviews in PubMed and Scopus to get an overview of your topic, timelines, terminology, and a references list full of studies on your topic!

What is it?
...information produced on all levels of government, academia, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body.
Schnopfel, 2010, Towards a Prague definition of grey literature
Types of grey literature sources:  GreyNet International 2019 list

How to Find It

Google Searches
You can limit your Google results by domain by using the "site:" function - Government of Canada
site:ca - Web pages from Canada
site:edu - US educational institutions
site:gov - US Government web pages
site:org - Not-for-profit web pages

Databases and Repositories

Government documents

Conferences and other academic sources

Here are a few questions to consider that can help narrow your search
  • Are there specific types of documents that would be most useful for answering your research question?
  • What kind of organization or person would most likely publish the information you are searching for?
  • What are your search limits (e.g. timeframe, geographic limits)?

Other guides on grey literature

Reading, writing, and citing in the Sciences

The very most basic explanation of what an evidence based paragraph can look like. 

An evidence based paragraph makes a point using evidence from the literature to strengthen that point. It usually has three parts:

  1. Point: The point establishes the main idea of the paragraph.
  2. Proof: The proof is what you use to prove your point. Usually consists of a paraphrase, summary, or statistic.
  3. Relevance: Relevance explains how the proof proves the point.

Point + Proof + Relevance = Developed!

Here is an example of how one could look:

Some kinds of honey have potential for use as an alternative to traditional antibiotics. Researchers found that after use for two days the area of skin colonised by bacteria was reduced by 100-fold on the skin that was treated with honey (Kwakman et al, 2008, p.1). The number of positive tests for bacteria were also significantly reduced (Kwakman et al, 2008, p.1). Honey is relatively cheap and available and may be able to play an important role in health care as a replacement for some of the antibiotics to which bacteria are developing resistance.

Kwakman, P. H. S., Van den Akker, J. P. C., Guclu, A., Aslami, H., Binnekade, J. M., de Boer, L., . . . Zaat, S. A. (2008). Medical-grade honey kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria in vitro and eradicates skin colonization. Clinical Infectious Disease 46(11), 1677-1682. htttp://

APA referencing used.

If you are looking for writing help contact Student Learning Services!

To avoid plagiarism when paraphrasing / summarising remember these five important points:

1) Your paraphrased text should be significantly different from the original (i.e. don't just change a few words here and there)

2) You must change the structure of the sentence or paragraph you are paraphrasing, not just the words.

3) If you use anyone else's words verbatim (word for word) you need to put quotation marks around it. Warning: Quotations are rarely used in the sciences

4) Use proper citation methods (in this case use APA) to give credit for the ideas, opinions or theories you are presenting.

5) Check that you have preserved the original meaning of the text in your paraphrased version

Paraphrasing and summarising exercises from Purdue University

The Library Guide on Artificial Intelligence has some suggestions for students when considering using these types of tools.

Generative AI has only recently entered into conversations in the scientific publishing world with a range of responses such as Springer Nature journals, Elsevier, and Cambridge University Press noting that in submissions this technology cannot be considered as an author and must be cited in the methods or acknowledgment section, while other publishers for example the Science family of journals consider it scientific misconduct to use AI in submissions.

Meanwhile, generative AI is now being used in the wider scientific community to progress the body of knowledge and undertake new discoveries. Here is just one example: First Drug Discovered and Designed with Generative AI Enters Phase II Trials, with First Patients Dosed

If you are interested in hearing more about how Generative AI functions, this article from September 11, 2023 in the Financial Times provides a good visual overview: Generative AI exists because of the transformer 

--> Of particular note when considering to use AI is the responsibility of the user to confirm the veracity of AI outputs; as students learning the discipline, it may be difficult for you to discern accuracy, so it is wise to weigh this responsibility and the potential for academic misconduct

Figure 1: When is it safe to use ChatGPT?

"Is it safe to use ChatGPT for your task?" by Aleksandr Tiulkanov, AI and Data Policy Lawyer, licensed under CC BY 4.0

APA Resources

The following APA resources will help you cite in-text, create a reference list and format your reference list: 

Present your research

Presenting your Research

The MRU Undergraduate Research Guide is an excellent resource for presenting your research and contains the following sections you might find especially helpful for oral presentations and creating videos.

Find additional resources for video production on the Library's Tech Support page 

Biology Librarian

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Kalen Keavey

Phone: 403.440.8516
Office: EL4423O