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A subject research guide for the students and faculty of the OSU Biology department in the discipline of Biology.

Searching for Journal Articles on a Topic

To search for a topic you will need to use an article database (not the e-journals list - more about using e-journals below).  

Find a good database.  Each database focuses on a particular subject. 

  • If you know the name of a good database for your project already, use the alphabet key on the databases page to navigate to your database. 
  • If you don't know the database name, use the subject pull down menu at the top of the databases page to choose your subject area.  Click on the red "I" to get more information about each database.  

Break your topic down.  Article databases often work best when you put a single idea in each search box.  For example, the research topic "what is the best plant spacing for soybeans in Oregon" could be broken down into three main ideas - Soybean, plant density, and Oregon.  Each of these ideas would go in their own search box or be separated by "and."

Use Synonyms.  Scientists often refer to words in a variety of different terms than you may be used to.  Try different search words to come up with the best results.  For example, plant spacing could also be called plant density, crop density, or intraplant competition.

Find the article.  Not all databases have full-text articles, and sometimes we have the article available electronically, but it is not immediately available from the database with one click. If you do not see a PDF icon for the article within the database, you have 3 options -

  • you can click on the 360 link to full text button which will help you discover whether or not our library has the article,
  • copy the name of the journal title, open another tab or window to the library's homepage, click on the e-journals link and paste the name of the journal in the search box,  once you have opened the journal, find the right volume, issue and page number for your article,
  • if the journal title is not in the ejournals list, paste the title into the OSU Libraries 1Search to see if we have it (either electronically or in print).