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IB 31: The Ecology and Evolution of Animal Behavior: Finding Journal Articles

Find Journal Articles

Several databases have a check box or filter to limit your search results to peer-reviewed research.

Specialized Databases:

Multidisciplinary Citation Databases:

  • Use these instructions to set up access to full-text via UCB subscriptions in Google Scholar.

Find Journals and Full Text

  • Use Journal Search to find online or print access to a particular journal.
  • To find full text when searching in an article database, look for links:                 Get it at UC
  • To find full text from a citation, paste the citation into the search box in UC Library Search.

Tips on Reading Journal Articles

How to read a journal article

  • Skim the Abstract to confirm that the article is relevant to your topic or research need - if not, find another article

  • Before you read, think about why and how the article relates to your class material or research topic. What do you hope to gain from reading the article, and how might it relate to what you already know about the topic? Having questions in mind can help you stay more engaged while reading.

  • If the article contains scientific terms or jargon that you are unfamiliar with, be ready to look up words in a textbook or online.

  • Read the article sections out of order, and don’t be afraid to skim sections. Reading the Introduction and Conclusion first can help you learn the context and significance of the research. When reading Results, start by skimming for headings and main points and looking at the figures and images. The Methods section may be important if the article relates to your research topic, but less so if you’re reading the article for a class. The Discussion section helps you understand the nuances of the results and can point you to other papers on similar topics. 

  • Annotating or summarizing the article and its main points may be more useful than using lots of highlighting or underlining.

Review and Tips

Search Strategies

Building a search

To most effectively find relevant journal articles in Biosis Previews (and other databases), see instructions (from Bio1B) on how to develop keywords, build a search, and broaden or narrow a search.

For example, if my topic were how koalas are impacted by the frequent and severe fires that result from climate change, my search might be: koala* AND (wildfire* OR fire* OR bushfire*)

Using one good paper to find others

From your search results, you can identify a relevant article and then use the database's tools to help you find more.

For example, here is a relevant 2021 article near the top of my search results:

Quantifying the impacts of bushfire on populations of wild koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus): Insights from the 2019/20 fire season

You can see more recent papers that have cited this paper (6 papers), view this paper's reference list (45 papers), and find similar articles ("View Related Records") using the Citation Network:

screenshot showing citation network

Review Articles

When you are starting your research and exploring topics, it can be helpful to find a review paper (also called a literature review). This is a paper that summarizes and synthesizes primary research (research articles) on a topic. You can filter your search results to review papers under the Refine Results menu on the left.

screenshot showing literature types filter