Bioinformatics: Article Search

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Why Articles?

Articles appear in magazines, journals, periodicals, and newspapers.  Use articles for:

  • most recent research on a topic
  • coverage of very narrow topics
  • coverage of current events
  • contemporary accounts of past events and research

Article Databases

Databases provide a systematic method of searching for articles, and other documents, on your topic. Some databases include full text of the documents they index but many do not. The top databases for biology are:

Search Strategies

Write down research questions for your topic and underline key concepts and keywords.  Think of broader or narrower terms depending on what search results you retrieve from those concepts and keywords.

Think of synonyms and alternative terms to search and refer to a Thesaurus for more ideas.

Remember most databases will have a list of suggested subject terms.  By choosing these you can narrow your search to those articles related to what you are searching for.

Evaluating Articles

Critical thinking skills should be used when deciding whether an article is appropriate to use. Consider:

♦ Type of Publication: Is it a popular magazine or newspaper, a trade journal, or a scholarly journal? (see below)
♦ Purpose: Is the intent to inform, entertain, persuade or educate?
♦ Objectivity: Are various sides or points-of-view represented?
♦ Author: Does the author have expertise on the topic?
♦ Date: Is the information current or timely for your topic?
♦ Bibliography: Are the authors sources of information cited completely.

Types of Periodicals

Periodicals, journals, magazines fall into 'categories' determined by their overall purpose.

Scholarly: Written for researchers, educators, students, authors are other professionals. Articles are reports of original research or other scholarly investigations/discussions.

Trade: Written for individuals in a specific career/job or with a specific interest/hobby. Authors are generally persons working in the field/hobby or journalists with specialized knowledge. Articles discuss current issues but are not reports of research; the focus is on application.

Popular: Written for general public; authors and editors usually journalists--not experts in the subject field; purpose is to provide current, societal/cultural news and discussion.

Getting the Articles

Here's a short video showing how Find it @ MU works. (About 4 minutes long.)

Two common ways to find out if the Libraries have access to the articles you need:

1) You are searching in an article database, but it doesn't have the full-text:  

Click on  Findit@MU button in the article citation. Another window / tab opens with two possible options:

  • Links indicating Find it @MU may have located one or more sources for full text of the article. Click on the links and follow the trail to the article. 
  • Links to search MARQCAT by the journal title or its ISSN number. The journal may be available in print or electronically through a source not searchable by Find it @MU.

2) You already have a specific citation and aren't currently searching in a database:

  • Search for the journal title in MARQCAT, the library catalog;
  • Do not search the title or author of the article, MARQCAT doesn't contain article level information.

The MARQCAT record will indicate what years we have in print and/or online, providing call number locations for the print and links to the e-journal.  Once at the e-journal, navigate to the volume, issue and page that you need.


Didn't find the article/journal using Find it @MU or MARQCAT?  Request the article through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) by clicking on the link at the bottom of the Find it @MU window or tab.  Learn more about ILL here.

Ever wonder why the full-text isn't there?  Watch this short video about the Business of Information.