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BIOL 112: General Biology II Laboratory

Assignment 4: Bibliography – Finding papers in the primary literature

Find at least five new references from the primary literature related to the project in this course. For example, find papers related to Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria, nodulation, rhizosphere bacteria, use of biological inoculants, or the plant species you are using.

Suggested Tips

  1. Search Terms: Brainstorm keywords or synonyms.
  2. Database searching: Use the appropriate databases to identify relevant journal articles.
  3. Limiters:  Limit or sort your results by relevance, times cited, date, author, language, etc.
  4. Scanning: Scan abstracts of articles, a primary research article will contain original data and ideas, and are generally the first published record of an investigation.
  5. Citation Chasing: Identify a series of key journal articles and look at the Times Cited, Cited References, Related Records.
  6. Reading: Read the articles you have identified and make notes from them.
  7. Cite them:  Use APA Style to cite your journal articles.


Biological Abstracts

Primary vs. Secondary

Primary Literature Secondary Literature
Reports of original research Reviews of  material already published.


  • Introduction
  • Materials & Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion


  • Define or clarify a problem
  • Summarize previous investigations
  • Identify problems or gaps in knowledge
  • Suggest the next steps

Researched conducted. Look for...

   "we tested"

   "in our study, we measured..."

No physical (lab) research done
Example - primary Example - secondary


Times Cited, Cited References, Related Records

Citation Analysis or citation tracking is a way to see the impact of an article in its field. Also, it's a great way to use a "landmark" or influential article to find more recent, related articles that cite the landmark article. Search in Biological Abstracts or Google Scholar to see if your source has been cited by others!

Times Cited:  Navigate forward in time using Times Cited to discover a paper’s impact on current research.

Cited References:  Navigate backward in time using cited references to uncover authors’ previous influences. (What you would think of as a traditional bibliography)



Related Records:  are ranked according to the number of references they share with the parent record.

Articles that cite the same works have a subject relationship, regardless of whether their titles, abstracts, or keywords contain the same terms. The more cited references two articles share, the closer this subject relationship is. Related Records is an excellent way of finding "more like this" articles.