Reference Sources

Centers for Disease Control
Healthfinder (from USDHHS)
History of Science Sourcebook
Medline Plus (from NLM/NIH)
MW Library Catalog – reference
Opposing Viewpoints (Gale) – database focused on contrasting policy perspectives
PhET – interactive simulations in chemistry, math, and physics
Salem Press (incl. Psychology)
Teens Health (from Nemours)
Virtual Reference Library (Gale) – digital reference books on a variety of topics

Research Sources

AP Source – incl. Discover, Newsweek, Scientific American, Time, and Psychology Today
EBSCO ebooks – books covering range of topics and perspectives
Google Scholar – reports, older journal articles, and a wide array of sources
Highwire Press – open source scholarly research in science
JSTOR – archive of scholarly articles (does not include most recent 5 years)
Microsoft Academic Research – similar to Google Scholar
MW Library Catalog – esp. nonfiction books in the 300’s, 500’s, and 600’s
PLoS ONE – scholarly articles
PowerSearch (Gale) – journals, news, and magazines, incl. Popular Science and Wired
Pub Med (with open access filter)
Science Direct (Elsevier) – scholarly journals – reports and data from government agencies
Science Open – open source research
Springer Open (formerly BioMed Central, Chem Central, etc.)- open source research
Zenodo – grey lit database

Biology, Health, and Environment

ARKive – reference re: plant and animal life with great visuals
Dept of Energy Information Bridge– science, technology, and engineering research
NSC Environmental – reports and other publications
Online Biology Book – resource recommended by Mr. Barnes
PubMed Central – scholarly research in medicine
Scitable – Biology resource site from the publishers of the journal Nature


Chemistry Education Digital Library Top 10 – virtual labs, tutorials, and more
ChemSpider – free chemical structure database
ChemTutor – review key concepts in chemistry


Dept of Energy Information Bridge– science, technology, and engineering research
SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (Harvard) – data sets

What are primary sources in science?

MLWGS science teachers sometimes require students to consult scholarly, primary research about a topic in order to develop a hypothesis, design an experiment, or write a persuasive paper.  To be considered a primary source in the sciences, an article must convey original research findings made by the scientists who wrote the article.

What is Original (Primary) Research?  (concise answer and glossary from UNF Libraries)

Here’s a quick video tutorial from Hartness Library System in VT that explains how to distinguish between primary and secondary sources too:
Traits of primary (original) research articles
Some common traits (not all of which are mentioned in the video) include the following:
  • Discusses experiments or modeling the researchers conducted themselves
  • Has sections like materials, methods, results, and conclusion/discussion/analysis
  • Includes charts, diagrams, tables, and data sets of original data
  • Has a lengthy reference list
  • Uses a formal, technical writing style
  • Has a title that describes experiment/findings (versus one that sounds like a catchy headline)
  • Authored by a team of scientists with expert credentials

Examples of primary and secondary sources

  1. Primary source (open web) – research study – UC Irvine
  2. Primary source (Gale) – research report – Coastal Education and Research Foundation
  3. Secondary source (JSTOR) – news article found in scholarly database
  4. Secondary source (found with Highwire) – review article

Finding Primary Research Articles

Many sources in the Delving Deeper list below may contain primary research about your topic.  As you budget your time, remember that you can only access full-text articles in Science Direct while on campus.  When you search Science Direct, use the Journal Search (click Search on the top toolbar, then click the Journal tab of the search box) and limit your search to the last five years.  For the most features, view the HTML version of the article (by clicking on the article title in your search results list rather than the PDF icon).  Features available in the HTML version include related articles, related terms, hyperlinked reference lists, quick access to figures and tables, and more.

See the section below that reviews important search limiters in Science Direct.

Reading Research Articles

How to Read a Scientific Article (PDF) – once located, reading scientific articles can be a challenge.  To improve your reading, use this method from Mary Purugganan, Ph.D., and Janice Hewitt, Ph.D..
Are you a visual learner? Here’s a reading tips video (best viewed full screen) for scientific articles. There’s no audio, but it covers useful information.

Setting Limiters in Science Direct

Our subscription includes only the most recent 5 years, so to avoid muddling results with articles you won’t be able to read, set your date limit to articles published in 2018 through the present. Depending on your assignment, you may also wish to limit your results to original research articles or literature reviews.

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