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BCH 467: Analytical Biochemistry Library Lab: Literature Indexes

Instructions for finding information from the literature for your lab reports; includes how to format the references in your report in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) citation style.

Introduction

The following are the best general literature indexes for biochemistry.  The indexes are listed in alphabetical order below, but which ones you use will depend on what you are looking for.  Each index has its strenghts and weaknesses.  

  • Biological Sciences
  • Google Scholar
  • PubMed
  • SciFinder
  • Web of Science

Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences 

Biological Sciences is an interdisciplinary database that incorporates subjects such as AIDS, Algology, Amino acids, Animal behavior, Aquaculture, Aquatic organisms, Bacteriology, Bioengineering, Biological membranes, Biotechnology (agricultural, medical, environmental, marine & pharmaceutical), Calcified tissue, Calcium, Chemoreception, Ecology, Entomology, Genetics (plant, animal and human), Human genome research, Immunology, Marine biology, Microbiology, Molecular biology, Mycology, Neurosciences, Nucleic acids, Oncogenes & growth factors, Peptides, Proteins, Protozoology, Safety science, Toxicology, Virology, and Zoology.  Types of material include journal articles, conference proceedings, technical reports, books and patents.

Once you have searched your topic, you can narrow the list to just scholarly journals by clicking in the left-hand column, under "Source Type".   To limit your results to just review articles, click in the left-hand column under "Document Type".

Google Scholar

Google Scholar 

Indexes all the scholarly material that it can find on the internet - note that not every scholarly publication is able to be found by Google.  Google does not list what publishers/publications it can access and which publishers/publications deny them access, so if you don't find material from a specific publication or publisher you cannot assume that nothing on that topic has been written; you can only assume that Google can't find it.  

The major advantages  are that it is multi-disciplinary and it has the ability to search the full text of articles (if the publisher allows it); the other literature indexes on this list only search keywords from the title and abstract.  Consequently, if the information you seek would be a small piece buried within an article rather than be a word in the title or abstract, Google Scholar is a good database to use.  

The major disadvantage of Google Scholar is the lack of customization that lets you control the search. 

Google Scholar does not have a way to limit the results to just review articles.  You may add the word review to your search but that will not guarantee that the retrieved articles are actually reviews - it only means that the sequence of letter R-E-V-I-E-W is somewhere in the article.  You need to open each article in the results list, and examine it to determine if it is actually a "review article". 

PubMed

PubMed

PubMed is the index that covers the major English-language medical journals (and some prominent foreign-language as well).  The coverage is primarily limited to human studies, however, you will also find studies about human diseases and interventions in which animals are used.  PubMed has special search  features that help you find articles on medical topics even if you use a common term rather than the medical term.  If your topic deals with human diseases or genetic conditions, PubMed would be a good place to search. 

To find review articles in PubMed, after you search your topic and have a results list, go to the left-hand column and under "Article Types" click on "Review";  to find only the best types of review articles, instead of selecting "Review", select "Customize" and from this longer list, select "Meta-Analysis" and "Systematic Reviews".   These latter two types of reviews are the considered the best evidence available for determining patient treatment. 

Tutorials on using PubMed are available.  If you are planning on attending med school, it is highly recommended that you become an advanced PubMed searcher, other wise just stick to the very basics of searching PubMed and don't worry about all the extra advanced features. 

SciFinder

SciFinder 

To use SciFinder you must be registered first with the Chemical Abstracts Service (a division of the American Chemical Society). REGISTER HERE.  

Once you are registered, you can use the SciFinder link above Access SciFinder - at the SciFinder login page use your special SciFinder username/password - do not use your asurite id/password. 

This is the premier chemical literature database that covers all areas of pure and applied chemistry.  This database is essential for almost all chemical literature searches.  In addition to covering chemical literature you can also find manufacters/suppliers of chemicals and toxicology regulatory information.  SciFinder can be searched by word, structure and/or reactions.   The system has many"under the hood" features that assist the searcher even those that are less knowledgeable about chemistry. 

Use the "Reference -> Research Topic" search; enter your search topic AS A SENTENCE - do not use boolean operators, do not put a phrase in quotes. 

To find review articles, after you get your results list displayed, go into the left-hand column, click on the "Refine" tab, then select "Document Type - from the Document Type list, select "Review". 

A basic tutorial on using SciFinder is available.

Web of Science

Web of Science 

Covers thousands of journal from almost all disciplines.  It's major advantages are that it is multi-disciplinary and it is one of the first and best sources of citation data (who is citing whom).   Although the other databases listed on this page also have citation data,they are limited to just the the publications from the same subject area.  Web of Science's citation data covers all disciplines, soyou're  likely to find higher citation counts (and therefore more varied literature) here, especially if you have a interdisciplinary topic.  

Web of Science's major weaknesses is that like Google Scholar,  it has few special features that help with subject searching, so like Google Scholar the searcher must be very good at searching synonyms and other ways of describing topics.   While Google Scholar somewhat makes up for the lack of subject search features with the ability to search full text, Web of Science does not do that.  

Web of Science is an improvement over Google Scholar for finding review articles - once you have a results list go to the left-hand column and under "Document Type" select "Review" - and in the ability to customize the search.  

 

The Web of Science has an online tutorial is available.  Note: the ASU Library only subscribes to the Web of Science Core Collection. 

 

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