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Biology 141 Spring 2021

Why would you use a background source?

Use background sources, such as encyclopedias, textbooks, and Wikipedia, to:

  • get an overview of a topic (what people are currently researching/thinking about in a subject area)
  • find new key words to help you search more effectively
  • use their citations to find primary, scholarly literature on the topic area

DO NOT CITE BACKGROUND SOURCES IN YOUR PAPERS!

Recommended Background Resources

Search online in DiscoverE  to begin your search. Get a start on your research question, look for related search terms, and find more resources in the bibliographies of reference articles to help further your research.

Online Reference Sources:

Google Scholar Search

What about Google Scholar?

Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts, and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities, and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.

Get the most out of Google Scholar with some helpful tips on searches, email alerts, citation export, and more.

Finding recent papers

Your search results are normally sorted by relevance, not by date. To find newer articles, try the following options in the left sidebar:

  1. Click "Since Year" to show only recently published papers, sorted by relevance;
  2. Click "Sort by date" to show just the new additions, sorted by date;
  3. Click the envelope icon to have new results periodically delivered by email.

Locating the full text of an article

Abstracts are freely available for most of the articles. To get the full text versions, try these tips. Never pay for an article! If you are asked to pay for access to an article, contact a librarian and we will help you to get access for free.

  1. Click a library link, e.g., "Find it @ Emory", to the right of the search result;
  2. Click a link labeled [PDF] to the right of the search result;
  3. Click "All versions" under the search result and check out the alternative sources;
  4. Click "Related articles" or "Cited by" under the search result to explore similar articles.

Connecting your Emory Library account

Don't see the "Find it @ Emory" link on the right side of the screen? You may need to set your Google Scholar settings for it to show up.

  1. From Google Scholar, click the three-bar "hamburger" in the top left of the screen.
  2. Select "Settings".

  1. Click the "Library links" option.
  2. Enter "Emory" into the search bar.
  3. Select the check box for "Find it @ Emory" - not Emory & Henry!
  4. Save your settings. When you search Google Scholar, you should now see the "Find it @ Emory" option to the right of items that Emory has access to. Click on that link to be taken to the library page for that item.

Getting better answers

  • If you're new to the subject, it may be helpful to pick up the terminology from secondary sources. (E.g., a Wikipedia article)

  • If the search results are too specific for your needs, check out what they're citing in their "References" sections. Referenced works are often more general in nature.

  • Similarly, if the search results are too basic for you, click "Cited by" to see newer papers that referenced them. These newer papers will often be more specific.

  • Explore! There's rarely a single answer to a research question. Click "Related articles" or "Cited by" to see closely related work, or search for author's name and see what else they have written.