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Biology Information Literacy

Database Searching

Scholarly articles can be found by using the article databases purchased by the Library. The Library has over 100 article databases on different topics. For biology, a good place to begin is a database called Web of Science.

A database is not as good at guessing what you mean as a search engine like Google. Databases like Web of Science use a controlled vocabulary; this is a system of tags that fit articles into subject categories. Since you won't know the vocabulary when you begin, you can start searching using keywords and phrases you come up with yourself. The database will retrieve articles containing every word you give it, so the more words you use in your search the fewer results you will get. This is why it is best to search an article database using a few relevant keywords or phrases.

One shortcut you can use is putting quotations around your phrases "like this". By using quotations around the phrase "signal transduction", the database will find articles with those words paired in that exact order, and not just retrieve articles that have the word "signal" and the word "transduction" in there somewhere. 

Use this link to get started searching in Web of Science! You can also watch the below video to learn how to search and filter your results.

Searching Web of Science

This video (4:49) will cover the basics of searching Web of Science from the CMU Libraries. For best resolution, please expand to full screen.

If captions are needed, please use this link and/or the PDF:

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