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A Guide to Biology: Find Primary Articles

Journals List

When you have an article with references, you can see if a particular reference is available by looking the journal's name up at the link below. Then you can use the volume and date information to navigate to the article. If we don't have access to that journal, we usually can get it from another library.

Biology Journals in Print

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

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


We also subscribe in print to the following biology-related journals and magazines
Environmental Ethics
Horticulture (current issue on main floor)
Minnesota Birding

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer
National Wildlife

New Scientist (current issue on main floor)


Open Access to Biology Research

When searching PubMed, you can narrow the results to "free full text." 

For a single source of open access journal articles in the life sciences, this collection from the National Library of Medicine is hard to beat.

Biology Databases

Often you will hear the phrase "primary articles" when starting biology research, meaning articles written by scientists reporting new research. These typically introduce the research with a review of previous research in the introduction, methodology, results, and discussion and/or conclusion. Journals in biology also publish "review articles" that provide a roundup of recent research on a topic in biology. If you are looking for primary articles or review articles in biology and biomedical topics, these databases will be especially useful.

Annual Reviews

These annual books publish review articles - detailed recaps of research on questions in the field. They are an excellent place to gain a sense of the various approaches to a topic and references to the literature that supports it.

Two series are shelved in the general collection under the following call numbers:

  • ADVANCES IN MARINE BIOLOGY v. 1, 1963- (QH 91 .A1 A22)
  • ADVANCES IN VIRUS RESEARCH v. 1, 1953- (QR 360 .A3)

Also of interest is WILDLIFE MONOGRAPHS. Current volumes are available online; volumes from 1956 - 2009 are sheved at QL 1 .W54.

The Annual Reviews series online also includes biology-related review articles.

Other Science Databases

How Do I Get the Actual Articles?

If there isn't a PDF available, look for a "find it" link. That will check to see if it's available through another of our databases. If no full text is available, it will give you an opportunity to request the article from another library. You will have to log in using your Gustavus username and password. It usually takes a day or two. Look for an email that will explain how to download the PDF. 

If you're using Google Scholar, look for either a "find it @ Gustavus" link to the right or a "more" link under the reference you're interested in.  


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