Biology Assignment (Amy Prendergast)

Assignment: Use Biological Abstracts database to find an article on a topic such as cloning or biological diversity. Compare this article to a website found with a search engine.

How to:

  1. Go to the University Library’s web site (
  2. Click on Articles, Indexes, Databases
  3. Under Indexes/Databases Listed by Title scroll down to Biological Abstracts
  4. Start search using keywords.
  5. Pick an article that looks good from the results and look at the complete record to see the descriptors/subject headings.
  6. Choose appropriate descriptors, go back to Search, and use descriptors to narrow search.
  7. Choose an available article from the results. To check if an article is available, if there is a “Link to” link, click it. Otherwise, click on “Check Full-text Journal List for availability.”
  8. Write a brief annotation, noting the date of article, author affiliation if any, and any other relevant information. Indicate how available - full text, or in Library print or microform holdings.
  9. Use an Internet search engine like Google to find a website using the same descriptors/subject headings.
  10. Choose a website and write a brief annotation.
  11. Compare the two with regard to authors (address or other biographical info, affiliation, qualifications), currency of publication/updating, and bibliography or other resource information given.

Support: Discuss the use and value of Biological Abstracts. Provide a list of topics relevant to the course--one for each student to discourage cheating/plagiarism.

Use: Homework assignment and short writing assignment. For "W' classes, allow peer review, revision and a small percentage for a grade.

Objectives: Make students aware of the value of this authoritative source for biology literature and its use of controlled vocabulary(subject headings). Encourage critical thinking and effective writing about the differences and relative value of databases compared to websites.