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Biology Lab Manual Workshops: Literature Review Workshop

Help for students in introduction to biology labs: using Excel, conducting a literature review, and citing using CSE

Workshop Presentation


You can use the link above to access PubMed.

You can also access PubMed through the library's web page:

  • Go to
  • Select Databases A-Z (upper left corner)
  • Click on P
  • Click on PubMed from the alphabetized list
  • If you are off-campus, you will be prompted to log in using your NetID username and password

1) Select the major terms used to describe your topic

  • Use the term OR in between terms to broaden your search and get more results, or to look for terms that have lots of synonyms
    • Example: Vaccination OR Immunization

2) You may also want to select additional terms to describe a specific population, outcome, or aspect of your topic

  • Example: Children OR Juveniles 

3) Select terms that indicate what kind of research you are looking for

  • Example: Quantitative OR Randomized Control Trial OR ANOVA

PubMed's main search screen gives on search box.  Group your terms together in parentheses and separate the groups with the word AND.

After you've typed in your search and hit enter, you can narrow your search based on publication dates.

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Primary vs Secondary Articles

Primary sources
are original reports of research.  In the sciences, these are published in peer-reviewed journals.  Examples of primary sources include: Conference papers, dissertations, interviews, laboratory notebooks, patents, a study reported in a journal article, a survey reported in a journal article, and technical reports.  You may see terms such as trial, study,or report.

Mohammadzaheri, F., Koegel, L., Rezaei, M., & Bakhshi, E. (2015). A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparison Between Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) and Adult-Driven Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Intervention on Disruptive Behaviors in Public School Children with Autism. Journal Of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 45(9), 2899-2907. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2451-4

Secondary sources
are critiques, descriptions or reviews of original works. There are two types of secondary sources.  The first type, review articles, are found in peer-reviewed journals.  While they collect primary research, they are not creating original research.  The second type includes books, magazine, or  newspaper articles summarizing and simplifying the primary research. 

Roy, A., Roy, M., & Deb, S. (2015). Are opioid antagonists effective in attenuating the core symptoms of autism spectrum conditions in children: a systematic review. Journal Of Intellectual Disability Research, 59(4), 293-306. doi:10.1111/jir.1212

Deffner, E. (2013). Responding to Autism: The Do's and Don'ts. Vibrant Life, 29(5), 36-39.

Articles for Slide 2

Practice Article One

Practice Article Two

Practice Article Three