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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Biology Senior Seminar 

Picking a Topic | Starting Points | Finding Articles | Finding Books | Web Resources

Picking a Topic


  • Which biology classes have interested you the most?
  • Which specific topics did you study in those classes?  
  • Does one of your professors have an area of study that interests you?  Ask for his/her advice.
  • What unanswered questions do you have?  This is an opportunity to explore those questions!


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Starting Points for Research

  • What's the scope of your project?
    Focus in on the specifics of your project.
    Formulate questions that will point you to the information you'll need.
    How much and what type of information will you need?
  • Do you need background information?
    Subject encyclopedias provide detailed information, written by experts in the field.
    -Encyclopedia of Evolution - REF QH 360.2 .E54 2002
    -Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia - REF QL 7 .G7813 2004
    -Encyclopedia of Bioethics - REF QH 332 .E52 1995

  • Identify your keywords/phrases/concepts
    Make a list of possible terms that will help you locate information about your subject.  If a term/concept may be expressed in more than one way, note this as well. (Note scientific names for organisms.)

      bird flu
      avian influenza
      influenza pandemic
      Gallus gallus

    Note how you might wish to combine these terms in your search.

      influenza and vaccines - will find only articles that mention both terms.
      (avian or bird) and influenza - will find only articles that mention either the term avian or bird, and also the term influenza.
      (avian or bird) and influenza and pandemic - will find only aritlces that mention either avian or bird, and also the terms influenza and pandemic.

  • Identify databases to search
    When selecting a databases (listed below) note the scope of the topic coverage and the dates of the content of each.

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Finding Articles

  • Staley Library Databases with biology coverage

    • Biological Sciences Collection (ProQuest)- Indexes over 8,000 serials, plus conference proceedings, technical reports, monographs, and selected books and patents in areas including animal behavior, biomedicine, biotechnology, ecology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, and zoology, with some agriculture, and veterinary science coverage. Includes access to the ProQuest Biology Journals database, MEDLINE and TOXLINE.  Coverage is from 1982-present and includes some full text.
    • JSTOR Full-text. Digitized back-runs of 199 core scholarly journals in the biological sciences. Coverage of recent volumes will vary by title, but usually does not include the most recent 4 years. Note: This is not a current issues database. 
    • Academic Search Premier Includes some full-text. Multidisciplinary topics, 1975 - . 
    • Article First Indexes the Journal of Arachnology. Includes some full-text. Multidisciplinary topics, 1990 - present.  
    • Agricola Catalog of books and articles at the National Agriculture Library. 
    • SORA: Searchable Ornithological Research Archive Free database from the University of New Mexico & partners searches contents of 7 ornithological journals: The Auk (1884-1999), The Condor (1899-2000), The Journal of Field Ornithology (1930-1999), The North American Bird Bander (1976-2000), Pacific Coast Avifauna (1900-1974), Studies in Avian Biology (1978-1999), and the Wilson Bulletin (1889-1999).
    • Nature Weekly, international, interdisciplinary journal of science publishes both peer reviewed articles and news reports for all fields of science and technology.

      Video Resources

      Filmakers Library Online Over 900 international documentaries about every subject including history, race and gender studies, human rights, globalization, multiculturalism, international relations, criminal justice, the environment, bioethics, health, political science and current events, psychology, arts, literature, and more.

  • Other Staley Library Databases to consider

    • Health Source- Nursing/Academic Edition: A broad range of health information. Includes full text for about 500 of the journal titles indexed in CINAHL.
    • PubMed: Medical journals index.
    • CINAHL w/ Full Text: nursing and allied health topics.
    • ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source Nursing and allied health topics from 1986- present. Includes 860 full text journals, 12,300 full text dissertations, chapters from e-reference books, evidence-based nursing content from the Joanna Briggs Institute, downloadable training videos from Medcom, and multicultural reports from CultureVision.
    • PsycArticles: full text of 56 peer-reviewed psychology journals.
    • PsycINFO 1887-present: Summaries of articles, books, reports and dissertations on psychology and related topics. (Provider: EBSCO Host)

  • How to Obtain Articles

    Is it available full text online?:  

    • First, check for hyperlinks that say: HTML Full Text, PDF Full Text, Linked Full Text, etc.
    • No full-text? Click on the "Find It!" button. This will search most of our other databases for electronic full text options for the article. [if there are none, it also provides links to the online catalog to search for print subscriptions, and an online Interlibrary Loan form!]
    • Or, use the Electronic Periodicals List to locate a Staley Library electronic subscription resource that carries the full text of the desired periodical.

    If not, do we have a print subscription?

    If all else fails, use ILL (Interlibrary Loan)!

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Finding Books

Connect to Millikin's Online Catalog.


  • Enter your search terms in the boxes provided, click Find.
  • To search other libraries, select the All I-Share Libraries option from the drop down menu. 
  • To request an item from another I-Share library, click on Request 1st Available, you will then be prompted to fill in information for Patron Login.

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Web Resources

  • Scirus: A science-specific search engine
  • Google Scholar: Searches only online scholarly literature.  Note:  Not all results will be freely accessible! Will provide links to Millikin resources when available.
  • Google Advanced Search: Try Google's advanced search option for a more precise search. (Try limiting the domain to .edu, .org, or .gov)
  • And you can check out the search features of many of the general web search engines at Search Engine Showdown.

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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL