ICSM Island Life

Best Bets

The Library has a lot of databases! It can be difficult to figure out which are the best for your topic. Here are some databases that should work well for research in biology:

ScienceDirect searches many resources in lots of branches of science. Limit to "Journals" to get peer-reviewed articles. You may encounter articles that aren't related to your search (for example, "adaptive radiation" leads to many articles about cancer), so use the limiters on the left hand side of your results screen to improve your results.

Biological Abstracts
Biological Abstracts searches sources in biology. Like in Science Direct, you'll probably want to limit to "Journals" when you search. Also be aware that full-text might not be available for everything in this database. Use the "Get It" links or search for the individual journal on the library website if you don't see the full text of the article included.

Academic Search Premier
Academic Search Premier is a very general database, which means you'll get a lot of results and might see some things that have no relation to your topic. However, it can be really useful when you're stuck, or if you want some interdisciplinary sources.

PLoS ONE: Public Library of Science
PLoS is an open access resource - that means its funded differently from traditional journals. PLoS has some great resources for biology and genetics!


Reference Sources

Reference sources (Enyclopedias, Dictionaries, Handbooks, etc...) are the best place to start your research. You can use them much like you'd use wikipedia: to find background information, major theories, basic facts, and keywords. They may also lead to more specific in-depth sources. Some options are suggested below, but feel free to use the library catalog to find more.

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Encyclopedia of Life
EOL has pictures and information on every known species on earth. It's a great place to start your research, and it's easily accessible online!

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia 
Ref. QL7 .G7813 2003   17 vols.
A great resource on animals! Grzimek's has pictures, habitat and behavior information, significance of the species to humans, and references to follow up on.
Beacham's guide to the endangered Species of North America 
Ref.  QH77.N56 B43 2001  6.vols. 
Beacham's has more comprehensive information on endangered species, although it is limited to North American species. Entries contain photos, behavioral information, conservation measures, and references.

Please note: Reference sources may not be checked out of the library, but you can scan or copy any information you need.

Search Tips

Keyword Search

A Keyword search is the easiest way to search.  A Keyword search will take the keywords you have entered and search the entire record (Title, Author, Table of Contents, Subject Heading, Full-Text, etc..) for your keyword  .
You should use a keyword search when:
1. You do not know what words or terms the database uses for your topic
2. You can't find a subject heading that matches your topic

Try different combinations of keyword as you search for information. Keep in mind you will need to narrow your search by including a geographic region. Think about different ways your region might be expressed. For example, the United States might be listed as: United States, America, North America, or the US .

Below is a short list of suggested keywords  :
Invasive species 
Invasive Alien Species
Native Plants
Non-native Animals
Insular Gigantism
Adaptive radiation
Island adaptation

Subject Search

Check the Subject Headings/descriptors for individual articles in your searches and repeat your search using these terms. Note that Subject Headings can be different in different databases. If it's your first time using a database, start with a keyword search to find useful subject headings.
Here are some Subject Headings in the library catalog (which searches books) that might be useful:

Biological Invasions
Endangered Ecosystems
Exotic Plant Invasions
Introduced Animals
Introduced Organisms
Invasive Plants Ecology
Nonindigenous Pests

Terminology and Searching
Always make sure you enter the scientific name, not the common name  of the plant you are researching. Using the common name might lead to results that have nothing to with your research.  If you don't know the scientific name, use an Encyclopedia to find it.
For example:
Plant - Common Name                                      Scientific Name
Garlic mustard                                                  Alliaria petiolata
Hydrilla                                                              Hydrilla verticillata

Keep in mind that plants may be used in cooking or medicine, so don't be suprised if you get results related to food, culture, or health.

Narrowing or Widening your search

If you're getting too many search results, or search results that aren't close enough to your topic, you can use AND to combine ideas. You can use AND in keyword searching as well as subject searching in nearly every database. AND gives you results that contain every idea in your search terms. For example: 

Alliaria petiolata AND North America 

This search will return only items that mention BOTH Alliara petiolata AND North America. ou can combine as many ideas as you want using AND, but be aware that it will decrease the number of search results.

If you're not getting enough results, you can widen your search using OROR is most useful if there are multiple terms for a concept you're working on. Just like AND, you can use OR pretty much anywhere. Unlike ANDOR will increase your results, since it returns any result that contains EITHER your first term OR your other terms. For example:

Alliaria petiolata OR North America 

That's a terrible search. It will return any results that mention EITHER Alliara petiolata OR North America. In this case, we can combine AND and OR to make a better search:

Alliaria petiolata AND (North America
OR United States OR US)

This search asks for anything that mentions Alliaria petiolata AND North America, even if in that source it refers to the United States instead.


Contact Us

picture of Abby Juda
Natural Sciences Librarian
(607) 274-3889

Search Argos

Finding a topic

Sometimes finding a topic can be easy: you may have heard a story on the news, read an article in a newspaper or science blog. If you haven't already seen something that interests you, you can turn to popular science sites for inspiration. If you find a useful article, you can follow up on their sources. Here are some places you can start:

New York Times Science Section 
Well written reviews of recently published research.

Science News
Scientific research written in easy-to-understand language.

Scientific American
All aspects of science and technology.

New Scientist
Science for the scientist, written with a humor and flair!

io9 collects science-related stories and puts them in clear language. Sometimes they're a little sensationalist, but they usually link to original studies/articles.

Invasive Species Resources

Global Invasive Species Database
Use this site to find details about invasive species. The database includes a description of the plant/animal, its habitat, range, impact, and how people are attempting to manage it. 

Invasive Species Databases (USGS)
The US Geological Survey has provided links to databases, networks, and initiatives that share invasive species information at the local, regional, national, and international level.

National Invasive Species Information Center (USDA)
This web site serves as a reference gateway to information, organizations, and services about invasive species. Maintained by the National Agricultural Library.

Kaua'i Invasive Species Committe
The KISC describes invasive species in Hawaii and their impact. They also produce quarterly reports on the actions being taken to deal with invasive species.


Island Biodiversity Resources

Convention on Biological Diversity
An overview of island biodiversity, its importance, the factors that challenge it, and actions that can be taken to preserve it.

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
CEPF provides information on biodiversity hotspots around the world, including the species they contain, the threats to their existence, projects to protect them, and sources for more information.

Threatened Island Biodiversity Database
This database has a world map searchable by location, threatened species, and invasive species. 

Galapagos Conservancy
The Galapagos Conservancy has a wealth of information about the biodiversity of the Galapagos islands, with details on each species and each of the islands.


Citing Your Sources

Online Wiritng Lab At Purdue ( OWL)
Comprehensive guide for research , writing and citation help ( APA& MLA styles)

You Quote It, You Note It!
Tutorial to help you quote, paraphrase and cite sources. Created by Acadia Univeristy.

CSE/CBE Citation Style

CSE style, formerly called CBE
(Council of Biology Editors) style refers to the citation style established  by the Council of Science Editors. CSE is the format preferred by writers in many disciplines in the natural science, including biology, geology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics.

Scientific Style and Format: the CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. 
8th ed. 2014

Available at the Ithaca College Library
Ref. T 11 S386 2014

Online Style guides
University of Wisconsin Writing Center CSE Guide

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