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CHEM 360: Biochemistry (Bencze)

This guide was designed for students in CHEM 360. It includes research tips and resources for doing background research and finding primary literature for diseases, proteins, and genes. Also included are tips for searching, writing and editing, and citing

Background Research: Encyclopedias and Reference Materials

Finding Encyclopedia and Reference Information

You might want to do some background research in encyclopedias and reference materials to get some background information and develop some ideas for potential topics and keywords. These resources public generally accepted knowledge about your topic and can help you gain a foundational understanding of it. As you develop your research topic, keep a list of keywords to use when searching databases. Try searching some of the reference resources listed below:

Background Research: Science News & Magazine Articles

Finding Science News & Magazine Articles

You might want to do some background research at the end of the scientific news cycle, searching in popular sources to get some background information and develop some ideas for potential topics and keywords. As you develop your research topic, keep a list of keywords to use when searching databases. Try searching some of the background research and popular scientific news/magazine resources listed below:

Primary Literature

Finding Primary Literature

Since your topic consists of a disease linked to presence or lack of protein/enzyme and determining how the structure and function of the protein/enzyme relates to the disease, you'll need to know a bit about your topic before you dive into the databases to search for primary literature (see background research above). Primary literature is usually the first appearance of results from original research and original reporting of new scientific discoveries. It should include a section about the research methods and the data collected during the research (results, tables, figures). Examples of primary literature are peer-reviewed journal articles, clinical trials, conference proceedings, dissertations, and technical reports.

Background Research ➜ Primary Literature

Where to Research within the Science News Cycle

When original research of a new scientific discovery is published in peer-reviewed journals (primary literature/scholarly sources) for the scientific community, it often gets picked up by news and/or scientific magazine outlets (popular sources) who distill the research findings into everyday language and general populations. Within the popular sources, you can discover ideas for research topics and possible keywords before diving into the scientific literature. 

Image Source: The Scientific Digest. The Science Gap, 2015. Retrieved from https://thescientificdigest.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/what-is-the-science-gap/

Discover a Topic in News or Science Magazines (Popular Sources)

Popular sources are often easier to search and skim for ideas of a research topic and are also great places to get background information on your topic to start generating a list of potential keywords. 

Look for clues within the article of:

  • Who published the original research (lead researchers)
  • When it was published (usually not too long before the news release)
  • Where it was published (scientific journal)

Sometimes, the news article or magazine will event list and link to the DOI of the primary research article.

Trace the Clues from the Popular Article to Find the Original Research

After you've found an interesting topic, use the clues from the news/magazine article to search library databases for the original research article. Use the Advanced Search function of the library catalog and/or databases to search a combination of the:

  • Journal title and publication date (if known)
  • Primary researchers/author
  • Keywords from the popular article