HSPP 1001: Biology Research Apprenticeship

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) on the fen ragwort - via Wikimedia

Hughes Science Pipeline Project

Instructor: Jonathan Snow

Personal Librarian: Lois Coleman
lcoleman@barnard.edu | 212.854.9095 | 104 LeFrak

Make an appointment for a Research Consultation

Finding Books and Journals

  • Go to CLIO and use the Catalog search to find books, journals (but not articles in journals), links to online journals, and other materials in the Barnard and Columbia libraries, including the Health Sciences Library.
  • For a Keyword search, use quotes for a phrase, and * for truncation (to find variant endings of a word).
  • For a complex search, use Boolean Keyword searching:
    • AND finds records which have all the search terms you entered;
    • OR finds records which have one of the search terms you entered, as well as records which have more than one of the terms. OR finds MORE.  Use parentheses to group terms.
  • For a known item, search by Title, Author, standardized Library of Congress Subject Heading, ISBN, etc.
  • Many biology materials fall into the QH call number range. Other relevant call number areas include QL (Zoology), QP (Physiology and Biochemistry) and QR (Microbiology)

Libraries Other than Barnard

Requesting Books and Articles

  • Use BorrowDirect to request a book from one of our partner libraries if it is not available at Columbia or is checked out (takes a few days).
  • Use Interlibrary Loan to request books and articles from libraries all over the world (can take a few weeks)

Reference Works


Finding Scholarly Articles

Scholarly Journals vs. Popular Magazines

  • Scholarly journals and books
    • are written for specialized readership, by scholars or experts in a field of study, describing “cutting edge” research,
    • are “peer reviewed” or “refereed” by other experts as a quality control mechanism,
    • have footnotes (or endnotes) and references, (citations written correctly, enabling other scholars to check sources),
    • give the affiliation of the authors (university, research institution),
    • and in the sciences and the social sciences each article also has an abstract.
  • Popular magazines are written for a general audience, and the vocabulary is less specialized. They do not have footnotes, references, or abstracts.

Plagiarism and Citing Correctly

  • Plagiarism means copying others' work, or simply failing to give credit where it's due. That is, not citing others' work in such a way that your readers will be able to track down the information on which you've based your thinking and writing. As a college-level researcher, you are part of the ongoing scholarly discourse, which involves being very clear about where you got your information and on whose work you are basing your ideas.  See Avoiding Plagiarism for more help on this.
  • For help with using an appropriate syle for citations in the sciences, see The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers: Scientific Style and Format

Selected Databases in Biology

These databases are all accessible via the CLIO Catalog; just search for the title of the database.  Besides the ones listed here, there are many other databases that can also be useful - see the research guide for Biology and Environmental Science.


  • part of Proquest, with citations and abstracts for articles in animal science, chemistry, energy, entomology, food science, forestry, life sciences, natural resources, and plant diseases, published from 1970 to the present
  • use quotes to search for a phrase, for truncation, use * (phenotyp* will find phenotype or phenotypic)
  • after entering keywords, select "Abstract - AB" from the drop-down list.  If you search "All fields + text" the full text will be searched, and you will retrieve too many irrelevant results.

Biological Abstracts

  • citations and abstracts for articles in biology, plant and animal science, ecology, paleontology, pharmacology, biochemistry, biophysics and bioengineering, published from 1969 to the present
  • for truncation, use * or $ (phenotyp$ will find phenotype or phenotypic)


  • citations and abstracts for articles in biomedicine, including the allied health fields and the biological and physical sciences, published from 1966 to the present
  • search functions are the same as for Biological Abstracts
  • you can switch between Ovid databases and repeat your searches by clicking on "Change Database"


  • contains scholarly journals, magazines and newspapers (New York Times back to 1851)
  • for truncation, use * (phenotyp* will find phenotype or phenotypic)


  • database from the National Library of Medicine database containing citations to articles in Medline, additional life science journals, and the integrated molecular biology databases included in the National Center for Biotechnology Information retrieval system (including DNA and protein sequences, 3-D protein structure data, and assemblies of complete genomes)

Science Citation Index (Web of Science)

  • a Thomson-ISI Web of Science database useful for determining if any articles have cited a specific article or book, or to examine the references of an article
  • limit document type to "Review" to obtain articles that provide an overview of a topic

Google Scholar

  • scholar.google.com retrieves only scholarly material, with links to full text, or to citations
  • To enable e-Link@Columbia, go to the Settings. Click on “Library links” and select Columbia University.

Selected Web Resources


  • Bibliographic software allows you to store your references conveniently, and cite them in papers and bibliographies using any citation style you choose. 
  • For help, see the Barnard Library EndNote guide.