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BIOLO 1151: Kirkpatrick

Picking a Topic

There are several ways that you can select a topic for this paper: 

  • Think: what about biology (health, the environment, etc?) is interesting or exciting to you? 
  • Google News: check for current biology headlines and trace it back to the original research article
  • New York Times Science Section: articles about new and interesting research are published each Tuesday. Make sure that your topic is related to biology.  (If you don't have a free NYT account through the library, get it here.)

Once you've chosen a topic, look to the following sources for background information: 

Now that you've gotten your basic summaries, focus: what bigger questions do you have?  Try the sources below to see what you can find:

Finding Credible Sources

If you have very specific questions about information found on your website (is it accurate?) or want to look up articles published by the scientists you may be researching, the following two databases are good places to look for information: 

Finding Scientists' Information

Having trouble finding top scientists in your discipline?

Try using the following:

  • Check Prize websites, such as the Nobel Prize or other biology prizes (see the WIkipedia List here).  Just make sure that your scientist is working in biology, and is still doing work in the last 15 years. 
  • You can use Google Scholar to search on their topic and look for highly cited articles, and then do author research from there.
  • Clarivate's Highly Cited Researchers will list the top 1% of scientists by field of study, but doesn't give much context. Google researchers from there.
  • You can also browse Science Daily, which features interesting developments in scientific research. Look for articles focused on your area of biology, and then see which researchers are mentioned in the articles.
  • American Men and Women of Science is a print set of volumes in the reference section that will allow you to look up short biographies of scientists still alive chosen because of distinguished achievement, research activity or administrative responsibility in science. For names, look under biology-related subcategories in v. 8. You can then search for the scientist in a database or in the catalog for more information.

Once you've identified two scientists in your area of study, try using the following strategies to discover more about them:

  1. Try using Google to search for your subject. See if you can find a university page, a professional website, even a Twitter account. A professional website can teach you a lot about your scientist, including their career trajectory, grants they've received, and even free copies of their research papers. 
  2. Check out International Newsstream.  If your scientist won a Nobel Prize, or has gotten huge acclaim for their work, there are almost always articles about them, their trajectory, etc. 

Evaluate Websites

While you're doing Google searches to either narrow your topic or in order to dig up more information on certain subject, you want to be careful to decide if the information you find is trustworthy.

When it comes to science, nearly everyone has opinions: should we be labeling genetically modified food for consumer's awareness? What will fracking do for our economy or our groundwater supply? Your job is to evaluate the information you can find through Google and Bing to find the good websites--those written by authors you can trust, with good and up-to-date information.

Authorship: Who created this website? What is their background on the topic? Are they trustworthy?

Bias: Why was the website created? What point of view does the author have? Does that limit the facts they present or how the facts are presented?

Date: How old is the information that is presented? Is it still accurate?

Questions? Check out the COD Library's guide to evaluating information.


Need some help putting together citations?  Check out the helpful links below: 

Want software to create citations for you? Check out the database below:

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  • Last Updated: Apr 29, 2024 9:56 AM
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