Researching Term Papers

Here are a few tips to help you get started with your term paper.

Choosing a Topic

You can get ideas for your term paper by leafing through the reader,the text, or the course notes, or by looking at recent issues of the majorjournals. Bring your ideas to the instructors for feedback before writing.We can help you focus your topic. See the Assignment for more information on choosing a topic.

Researching the paper

The librarians at the reference desk of the BioSciences library are veryhelpful, and can explain all of the methods below in greater detail. Informationsheets on many topics are also available in the BioSciences library. Inaddition, the UC Berkeley LibraryWeb has some useful information and Web links.


Starting with a paper

If you have a recent paper, working backward is easy by checking thebibliography of the paper. References found this way can be looked up using GLADIS Online Library Catalog and the title of the journal. The listing might look like this, indicatingthe call number of the journal.

1.     Annual review of physiology.       Palo Alto, Calif., Annual Reviews Inc.BioScience   QP1.A62               Library has:  Bound 1(1939)- (more than one copy of some                 volumes)               Library has:  CUMULATIVE INDEXES: 1(1939)-26(1964)

You can also work forward through time using the Science CitationIndex . This index lets you look up a paper and get a list of more recentpapers that have cited it. You can then look up these in Gladis. The SCIbooks are located to the left as you walk into the library, beyond the referencedesk, near the computers; the librarians can help you find them.

For example, suppose you were interested in S.J. Arnold's paper, "Morphology,performance, and fitness" in the reader. You would like to see howhis ideas have been received and utilized since the paper's publicationin 1983. You would look up "Arnold, S.J." in the Science CitationIndex (specifically the "Citation Index") for 1995. In the caseof Arnold's paper, no one has cited it yet in 1995, so you'd go to 1994.You would see something like this under Arnold, SJ.


Arnold, SJ                             Vol   Pg    Yr  64 Evolution  65      543   .   .  83 Am Zool    23      347      Arnold SJ  Am Natural  143   317   94      .      .      Garland T  Ann R Physl  56   579   94      .

The actual listing for S. J. Arnold is enormous, but I've only showntwo of his articles here (one hypothetical). Listed under 83 is the AmericanZoologist "Morphology, performance, and fitness" paper. This listingindicates that several people, including Arnold himself cited his 1983 article.One of these is Ted Garland, who cited Arnold in a paper in 1994 in AnnualReview of Physiology, volume 56, page 579. You could look up Garland's paperin Gladis under "Annual Review of Physiology" and see how he usesArnold's ideas.

Starting with a topic

If you have a topic, but no papers to start with, you can look up referencesby subject in either Biosis or Current Contents , both ofwhich are available through MELVYL .There are also various similar reference sources available on CD ROM inthe library. Again, information sheets are available in the library nearthe reference desk, and the librarians are quite helpful.