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Biosciences and Chemistry

What is an academic journal?

Academic journals are written for a range of readers with a varied level of experience and knowledge.

Journals can range from being incredibly broad with articles covering multiple subjects to being incredibly narrow and articles specialising on one subject. Within the journal, you can find articles of varying length which focus on a specific issue, challenge or development.

There are different types of articles published in journals. For example, two common article types are: 

  • Review articles that summarise a range of ideas from other journal articles about a specific topic.
    • These are classed as secondary sources.
  • Original research articles that test an idea and report on the findings.
    • These are classed as primary sources.

Articles are a rich source of data.

The choice of terminology can range from common, technical, medical and specialist depending on the intended audience. When reading articles, if you find a new term, theory or process you may need to clarify what it means to make sure you understand the article fully.

How to find out what terms mean!

So, whether you need more information on bioremidation or Koji mold, there is a reference source to help you figure out what those terms mean. 

You can look up terms, theories or processes using the encyclopedia AccessScience or a subject specific dictionary like the Dictionary of Chemistry within Oxford Reference Online: Premium.

If the terms are medical or health related, then you could look them up in MSD MANUAL Professional Version or PubMed MeSH Headings.

How to read scientific journal articles

Before we begin finding journal articles, let's think about how we read for academic study.

Reading is a lifelong skill and we read all the time... whether its reading for fun or for specific purpose like reading furniture assembly instructions. 

  • Remember, we are reading with a purpose to help answer your assignment question. 
  • We can be selective and read only the information we need! We do not have to read the textbook from page 1 to the end of the book - only the relevant sections we need!
  • Be active... make notes to help consolidate your understanding.

Here are a few useful guides for you to take a look before you being reading journal articles to help you get the most from your reading:

What are the key journals in biosciences and chemistry?

A key journal could be described in multiple ways.

It could be based on any of the following criteria:

  • subject relevance
  • readability
  • impact factors
  • impact on field
  • whether the content is peer reviewed
  • contains specific types of articles e.g. original research papers or review articles

We would recommend focusing on readability in your first year of study. Make sure you can understand the key themes of the articles within the journal and then move on to more challenging papers.

Here are a range of journals to get you started:

Can I use Library Search to find journal articles?

That is a great question but first we need to explain what Library Search is!

Library Search is a powerful search engine that you can use to search the library collections. With Library Search, you can find results from our book and journal collections plus any other sources that Library Search covers Your search results are returned in one list that can be filtered to show the resources you need.

How to use Library Search to find journal articles

One of the quickest ways to find journal articles can be to type a few keywords e.g. wound healing. When you search Library Search, you are searching almost everything within the Library collections and this is why the search results can be so high in number.

Use the Library Search filters to reduce your search results:

  • articles - this will limit your results to only journal articles
  • online - very useful if you want to limit your results to online articles
  • peer-reviewed journals - very useful if you want to restrict your results to peer reviewed articles
  • publication date - think currency of content! Do you need to find everything back to 1592!

Can I use databases to find journal articles?

Yes you can!

A database is an online resource that contains information that can be searched. You can search databases individually by going to the resource either by Library Search, the A-Z list of databases or a link in your subject guide.

When I use Library Search... am I searching the databases?

When you search Library Search, you are also searching, in one search, many but not all databases in the Library collection.  You are also searching other resources like media collections.

What is a database?

Many of the databases we have in the Library collection cover academic subjects. Database can cover multiple subjects or be subject specific. Databases tend to provide more advanced search options and tools than Library Search. It can be easier in a database to limit to a specific article type, combine sets and have access to more field searching options.

How do I decide which database to search?

That's a great question! Many of the databases are subject specific and contain journal articles from a range of journals. The key databases for Bioscience and Chemistry are listed below: PubMed for Bioscientists and the Royal Society of Chemistry for Chemists and include information about each to help you decide which to search.

Consider what information you need (primary articles, review articles, literature reviews, protocols, chemical properties) and then choose the most relevant databases.

Is there another approach I can take?

You could begin by searching for and reading review articles in relevant journals.

If you are new to reading journals and review articles, a great collection to begin with is the Annual Reviews Collection. This collection includes many different journals covering a variety of subjects.

What are the key bioscience databases?

The following sources cover biosciences.

The sources include journal articles, systematic reviews, data sheets, protocols, clinical trials and patents. Read the description of the database to ensure that you are using the source most relevant to your research.

Databases specific to biosciences.

What are the key chemistry databases?

The following sources cover chemistry.

The sources include journal articles, chemical data including substance, properties and reaction data and health and safety information. You will need to read the description of the database to ensure that you are using the sources most relevant to your research.

What are the key pharmacological databases?

The following sources cover pharmacology.

You will need to read the description of the database to ensure that you are using the sources most relevant to your research.

What are the key health databases?

Here are a selection of some of the most useful Health resources listed on the Library subject guide for Health including the Cochrane Library.

The Cochrane Library contains a variety of information ranging from data about clinical trials to systematic reviews related to health and treatments. Systematic reviews are very detailed, information rich and incredibly useful pieces of literature!

What are key multi disciplinary databases?

The following sources are multi-disciplinary databases and include biosciences and chemistry.

I am interested in bioinformatics

Here are a range of bioinformatics related resources:

I am interested in statistics

These resources relate to statistics and cover a range of different subjects that may be relevant when thinking about final year projects.

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