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BIOL 1740: Biology for Science Majors II Lab: Search for Article

How to locate a peer-reviewed, primary source, research article for your written assignment.

Decide on Search Terms

The search terms you will use to find an article in a database will come out of the topic exploration you did. In general, you want two to three search terms for this search, and a few variations on the terms.

  • Topic: E. coli that cause food poisoning. Possible search terms: E. coli, illness, disease, contamination, meat, fruit, vegetables
  • Topic: Bacteria that break down plastic waste. Possible search terms: bacteria, plastics, polymers, biodegradation, degradation
  • Topic: Algae that overgrow in lakes. Possible search terms: algae, fresh water, lakes, algal bloom, overgrowth

Make sure to also add the word "study" to your search. When you use this term, most of the resulting articles will be empirical, primary sources because the abstract of a research paper almost always contains the word "study."

The next step is to enter different combinations of your search terms in a journal article database.  

Search in Academic Search Complete

Academic Search Complete is a journal article database that covers all subjects and contains lots of full text articles. Enter the database here or enter it from the Libraries homepage at, as shown below.



ASC searchEnter 2 or 3 search terms (including "study") with "and" in between them in the Basic Search box.



        Peer reviewed limit                                            

Limit your search to Scholarly Journals.





ASC Page Limit


Limit the number of pages in the article to "less than" 4 or 5.




ASC searchFinally, click on the Search button. Go on to Refine the Search.




Subject Librarian

Erin O'Toole's picture
Erin O'Toole
Willis Library, Room 080

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