Skip to main content

BIO 241 - Invertebrate Biology: Accessing the Journal Literature

Two Approaches

There are two valuable but different ways of finding scientific literature. One is to search a database for relevant keywords or authors who you know.

Another is to tap into the way the scientific literature indexes itself - through references. When you have a valuable paper in your hand, the author has given you a list of related publications that she or he cited. So handy! The reason scientists include a literature review in their work is to show how their work connects with what has come before. 

There is also a way of going forward in time through citations. Two resources are designed to show who has cited a paper since it was published: both Web of Science and Google Scholar will help you connect to the network of scientists working in the same area. You can also get a sense of how influential a paper has been, taking into account how recently it was published.

tree branches

Photo courtesy of Robert Hruzek, 2014


Hint: Finding Open Access Articles

Increasingly, scholars are frustrated that their research is available only to people who have access to big libraries, so they either publish their research in journals that are free to anyone to read or they reserve the right to put copies of their research online. Try Googling the author and title of an article you need and add filetype:pdf - you might get lucky and find a free copy online.

For research in biology and biomedical sciences, the National Institutes of Health provides two nifty options. PubMed is a huge database of medical research articles. After you do a search, you can choose to limit your results to free full text articles.

Or you can go to PubMed Central, an archive of over 1,000 life science journals and articles based on research funded by the NIH to find lots of articles in biology and medicine.

How to Get Your Hands on Articles


photo courtesy of Miguel Librero, 2013


Journals List

To find out if we have a journal, or to use citation info to find a specific article, search by journal name here.


Interlibrary Loan

We can get articles from other libraries, usually within 48 hours. You can request them two ways: 

  • If you're in a database and click on a "find it" link and discover we don't have access to that journal, there will be an option to request it. You'll need to type in the barcode number on your student ID and last name. 
  • If you encounter a reference to an article in something you've read, you can type the information about it (author, title, publication, volume, issue, pages, and date) into a form. These forms are hard to find, so there's a very short film showing where they are hidden below.

When the article has been scanned, you get an email with an explanation about how to download it.

Finding ILL Forms

A very short silent film.


Barbara Fister
I'm happy to meet to discuss your research in my office, over coffee, or wherever it's convenient for you.

Office: Library Lower Level (facing Beck Hall)
phone: x7553
Website / Blog Page

Catalog Search

Search for Books, Music, Videos & More

Advanced search · Books, videos, and music · New Arrivals · WorldCat

Biology Journals in Print

These print-format journals all publish primary research and review articles in the field of biology.

American Midland Naturalist
Behavioral Ecology
Genes and Development (most current year; earlier volumes in PMC)
Journal of Freshwater Ecology
Wilson Journal of Ornithology

These print-format journals are in the field of neuroscience

Journal of Neurophysiology
Nature Neuroscience


We also subscribe in print to the following biology-related journals and magazines
Environmental Ethics
Minnesota Birding

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer
National Wildlife

New Scientist


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License