Home: GN 301
Journal Articles on a Topic
Getting Copies of Articles
Services for Distance
Researching and Finding Information
Course Instructor: Betty Gardner
GN 301 Course Page
Librarian: Mohan Ramaswamy
This guide gives you tips and resources for researching your paper.
with an asterisk (*) are especially good places to start your research!
Table of Contents:
I. Background Information
II. Internet Resources—Evaluating Web Resources
III. Searching Databases—Tips for Finding Journal
IV. Getting Copies of Articles
V. Citing Resources—Articles & Web Pages
If you need assistance: Call 515-2935, come by the Reference
use Ask a Librarian
(chat, text, IM, and email reference)
You can also contact the genetics librarian, Eleanor Smith,
513-3969, email: email@example.com
for Off-Campus Access to Databases and Electronic Journals
Services for Distance Learners
I. Background/General Information—What
resources? Why use them?
These books--some of them online---can give you topic ideas, background information
so that you can understand your topic better and do more effective searching
for articles, and include lists of useful articles on your topic.
*Gale Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders, 2 v., 2005
Reference, Learning Commons RB155.5
Provides easy to understand but fairly detailed descriptions of almost
400 genetic disorders. Includes references at the end of each article.
of Genetics, Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Focus is on studies based on the human and mouse genomes, but also covers
other important model eukaryotes and pathogenic bacteria. Good explanations of
the technologies involved in these areas.
A comprehensive collection of articles on all aspects of genetics, from Mendel
to the decoding of the human genome. Explains the workings of genes and chromosomes,
genetic diseases, and biotechnology. Also covers the ethical, legal, and
social issues connected to genetic science. Includes full-color photos and
line drawings, a glossary of scientific terms, and coverage of careers in
of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Short articles with links to further reading and related articles
of Life Sciences
Contains introductory, secondary, and special essays on 14 main subject areas:
biochemistry, cell biology, clinical medicine, developmental biology, ecology,
evolution and diversity of life, functional and comparative morphology, genetics
and molecular biology, immunology, microbiology and virology, neuroscience,
plant science, structural biology, and science and society. Updated articles
and new articles are added monthly.
of Molecular Biology
Topics covered include cell growth and differentiation, gene expression, immune
system, metabolism, signal transduction and viruses.
An Introduction to Human Molecular Genetics: Mechanisms of Inherited
eBook and print copy, QH431 .P316 2005, 7th floor bookstacks.
Focused on specific mechanisms of disease at the molecular level, e.g., modifications
of DNA sequence, chromosomes, etc.
Genetic Disorders Sourcebook: Basic consumer health information about hereditary
diseases and disorders, including facts about the human genome, genetic inheritance
patterns, disorders associated with specific genes....
Reference, Learning Commons RB155.5 .G455 2004
Encyclopedia of Genetics, 4 vol., 2002
Reference, Learning Commons QH427 .E535 2002
Detailed genetics encyclopedia, includes genes, genetic
diseases, famous geneticists, and genetic and molecular biology terms.
Dictionary of Syndromes and Inherited Disorders, 2000
Reference, Learning Commons RC69
Brief 1-2 page overviews of inherited disorders. Might be worth scanning
for topic ideas.
*Nature Encyclopedia of the Human Genome, 5 vol., 2003
Reference, Learning Commons QH427
Wonderfully detailed articles on a wide array of genetics and genome-related
topics—including the deCODE genealogical project in Iceland, gene therapies
for many disorders, in-depth discussions of multi-gene disorders, genetic counseling,
ethical and societal issues, DNA technologies, etc. Articles have significant
lists of references at the end.
Encyclopedia of Bioethics, 3rd ed., 5 vol., 2004
Reference, Learning Commons QH332
Vol. 3 has several chapters on genetics-related ethical issues (screening,
testing, counseling, discrimination). Chapters include a bibliography of articles
and web sites.
II. Selected Internet Resources
Expert reviews of over 240 genetic diseases—reviews include links to
OMIM (see below), PubMed, and many other resources. Also information on genetic
testing and testing laboratories. If your topic is in here it is a great place
Web site includes many very useful resources for information on genetic diseases,
genes, chromosome maps, and articles (Pubmed). Many of this are inter-linked,
so if you go to one part, you can connect to other sections. Some useful sections:
A catalog of human genes and genetic disorders, with links to literature
references, sequence records, maps, and related databases. Very detailed, intended
for use primarily by physicians and other professionals concerned with genetic
- Genetics Home Reference http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov
Contains summaries of genetic diseases, gene information, names and symbols,
and links to other good resources. Intended for the general public.
The official site for information about the Human Genome Project. Includes
information on ethical and social issues, technology, current news releases,
history and purpose of the project, etc.
Evaluating Web Resources
How do you know if a web resource is accurate and reliable?
Here are some things
- Author/Authority: Who (person or organization) is in
charge of the site? Are they qualified to present this type of information.
- Purpose/Bias: What is the purpose of the web page? Be
aware of hidden (and not so hidden!) agendas on web pages. Some aspects
of genetic testing, the genome project, etc. raise strong feelings and
these can be reflected in highly biased web sites.
- Content/Accuracy: What is the level of information?
Do you find errors and inaccuracies? Does the web page include links to
references or other pages where you can check data? Are these other links
to quality resources (like journal articles, genetic data, etc.)?
- Currency: Most web pages should have a copyright date
as well as date when the page was last updated.
III. Finding Journal Articles
The best way to find journal articles on a specific topic is to use a database.
Find these databases using the Databases
link on the NCSU Libraries home
A. Select a Database to Search
Which databases should you use? This depends on your topic and your approach.
Topic area: Human/Medical Genetics (diseases, testing, genes)
*Pubmed—best place to start
BIOSIS (Biological Abstracts)
Source Consumer Edition
Source Nursing/Academic Edition
Topic area: Ethics, Psychology, History, Social Aspects, etc.
The medical/biology databases listed above will have some information in these
of Science, Technology, and Medicine—History, people
Other Databases: Multidisciplinary, News, Popular Journals
Search Premier and Lexis-Nexis
Academic—these databases have newspaper and magazine articles as
well as journal articles. Some scientific content, but probably better for
information about ethical and societal issues.
of Science—a multidisciplinary database that covers the social sciences
and medical sciences. Good scientific content.
B. Tips for searching databases—
get the best results with the least
- Step 1. Look at background information about your
topic, such as disease names, genetic terms, code numbers for
genes… It seems silly—but you can sometimes find better information
about your topic if you already know a little about it.
- For example, there
are 9 different types of muscular dystrophy, with different names and different
- Start out with the most common and/or most specific term for your topic—“duchenne’s
muscular dystrophy” instead of just “muscular dystrophy.”
- Step 2. Analyze your topic by dividing it into major concepts—usually
1-3 concepts. This will help you get better results in database searching.
Use “AND” to combine more than one concept in a search:
- Be careful: don’t search by phrases like “the ethics of genetic
testing” because the database will take this literally and only search
for the exact phrase. Instead, try: “ethics AND genetic testing”
- Some topics are so specialized you may only need one concept, example: “sickle
- For other topics you should think about adding additional terms—for
example, searching on “breast cancer” will produce way too
many results about chemotherapy, surgery, etc. But searching on “breast
cancer AND genetics” or “breast cancer AND gene*” will
give more specific results
TIP: GET A REVIEW! Another
good way to get an overview and some references is to look for review articles
in journals. When you search a database, add the term “review” or
"literature review" as another concept. Example: “schizophrenia
AND genetics AND review.” Both PubMed and Web of Science let you limit
your search results to just review articles.
Also, some journals publish only reviews—these include:
Genetics QH431 .A3
Annual Review of Genetics QH431
.A1 A54 and online
Current Opinion in Genetics and Development QH426
.C89 and online
Trends in Genetics QH426 .T73 and online
- Step 3. Check for terminology, spelling, and word variations
- Consider synonyms for your search ideas—if you are using synonyms,
connect them with “OR” and put them in parentheses. Example:
(brca1 OR brca2). This is especially helpful for general terms like “impacts” or “ethics”
- Be as specific as possible, especially in scientific databases—e.g.,
search for “acquired AND creutzfeld-jacob disease” rather than “mad
- Use shortcuts to account for differences in word endings and singular
vs. plural forms of words. Most databases use a symbol for this shortcut,
many times it is an asterisk (*) --Example: gene* will give you gene, genes,
genetic, genetics, etc.
- Troubleshooting: What to do if…..
- If you get too few or no results:
- Doublecheck your spelling
- Are you using the right terms? Try different terms, or add synonyms.
If your term is very specific, try using a slightly more general term.
- How many concepts are you searching? If it’s more than 2
or 3, try eliminating one of the concepts.
- Make sure you are searching concepts using AND, and not a literal phrase.
- Too many, or too general, or irrelevant results
- If you can, use a more specific term.
- Add another concept to your search to make it more focused.
- Narrow your topic more—for example, instead of cancer and
genetics, look at a specific cancer and genetics; or, instead of
breast cancer, look for specific genes, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 (this
is where background information comes in handy).
- If there’s too much information, try looking for a review
- Scan your results and see if one of your terms also means something
totally different than what you want… replace that term.
IV. Getting copies of articles
- If you are in a database---look for this symbol:
When you click on this link, it will open a new window—if we have the
journal article online, there will be a link directly to the article. If the
journal article is not online, you will need to search the catalog to see if
we have it in print.
- To search the catalog for a journal: start at the library home page, change
the drop down menu at the top to “journal title” and type in
the title of the journal (leave off the first word if it is an article, e.g.,
a, the, an).
- Electronic journals—You can also look for electronic journals by
using the Journal
List link on the library home page. You can search, or look
at journals by topic (try Genetics in the pull down subject menu).
- If the library doesn’t have the journal in print or online—you
can still get it! We will get a copy of the article for you from another
library—it is free—but you need a little extra time (about a
week). Use the Request
Items/TRIPSaver link to request articles online, click on TRIPSaver-Interlibrary.
This is a good reason to start your research early!
- Distance learners—remember, if the article is not available online,
the library will send it to you---use the Request
Items/TRIPSaver link and click on Distance Education and Extension Delivery.
V. Citing Resources—Article and Web pages
This is an online tool that will create a citation in the correct format after
you type the relevant information into a web form. It works for web sites,
to cite different types of online resources using the different styles (APA,
MLA, and CBE—Council of Biology Editors).
Librarian Contact Information