Research Guide for

BIOL 1501 Principles of Biology 1 (Carlson)


Find Articles

Academic Search Complete (EBSCOhost)
Articles in all subjects from scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers. An all-purpose database and often a good place to start.

Journal articles in the health and life sciences.

Science E-book Collection (Gale)
Selected ebooks on science topics from Gale.

Science (AAAS)

Online version of the journal Science published by the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science).

PubMed contains citations to articles in MEDLINE and other sources. Selected full text articles available. Click the Find Full Text button with the Normandale logo to see if the full text of the article is available in another database.

Types of Sources

Within the broad discourse of a field, there are many different kinds of sources. In academic writing, we usually divide sources into academic or scholarly sources, and popular sources. One central difference is that academic and scholarly sources go through a process called peer review, while popular sources do not.

What is the difference between scholarly sources and popular sources? The Georgetown University Library has a good comparison between the two here.

Popular Sources

  • Written by non-experts (usually journalists) for a general audience.
  • Types of popular sources can include magazines, newspapers, books by non-experts published by popular presses, and websites. 
  • Often fact-checked for accuracy but not edited or reviewed by experts before publication.
  • No References section and few in-text references.
  • Include advertising, lots of pictures, and look flashy and eye-catching.

Scholarly Sources

  • Written by experts (usually professors or professionals) for an academic audience.
  • Types of scholarly sources include encyclopedias, textbooks, books by experts or from an academic or university publisher, academic journals, and conference presentations.
  • Contain in-text citations and have a References section.
  • Have minimal or no advertising; look very plain.
  • Scholarly sources = academic sources (both terms refer to the same thing).
  • Academic articles also undergo peer review so they are also called peer-reviewed sources​.

What is peer review? The publisher Elsevier has a good overview here. Academic articles are reviewed by other professionals (peers in the field) before the article is published in a journal. If the article doesn't meet high academic standards or contains bad information, it is sent back to the author for revision, or outright rejected. The author can then revise and resubmit the article. It is only accepted when all reviewers agree the article is good enough to be published. This rigorous process ensures that only the best articles are published by academic journals.

Within scholarly sources, there is also a distinction between primary sources and secondary sources. Within the sciences, this is offen the difference between original research and reviews. The BMCC library has a good overview of the difference between primary and secondary sources here

Primary Research

  • Original research conducted by the authors. Can include experiments, clinical trials, or any other original research.
  • Contains sections about methodology, materials, results, and discussion.

Reviews/Secondary Sources

  • Reviews and interprets someone else's original research.
  • A secondary source can review a single primary source, or summarize multiple different studies--these are called meta-analysis, systematic reviews, or literature reviews, depending on the type of summary.
  • For the most part, it does not contain methodology, results, or discussion sections. Sometimes meta-analysis or systematic reviews contain these sections about how they performed the review, but the article will make this clear.

Articles for Biological Literature in-class assignment:

Article One
Article Two


Article for CAPPS Source Evaluation in-class assignment

Article - "Doctors Say No to GMOs"

Evaluate Source Credibility

Evaluate each source you use with CAPPS!
Consider the source's –
C = Currency
A = Author
P = Publication
P = Point of View
S = Sources

More info about CAPPS pdf

Learn About Scholarly Publishing

Peer Review video by North Carolina State University Library

Structure of Scientific Research Papers by Steve Kirk

Ask a Librarian

Call, e-mail, or chat with a librarian for more research assistance. We're happy to help!

  (952) 358-8290


Luke MosherReference and Instruction

Note: Your chat question may be directed to a librarian from another college when Normandale librarians are unavailable.

Access Our Databases from Anywhere

Online Library Access Info
To access databases and other Library resources, login with your StarID and password when prompted.  Access is only available to current Normandale students and employees.


Cite Your Sources (SSF)

Scientific Style and Format (CSE Style)
The online version of the science writing and citation guide, published by the Council of Science Editors (CSE). See Part 4 Chapter 29 for information on how to cite your sources.