Top Resources
Biological & Agricultural Index Plus - Indexes core literature of biology and agriculture, much of it from peer-reviewed journals. Subjects covered include botany, environmental sciences, health, life sciences, medicine, and zoology.

AGRICOLA - Indexes more than 5,000 professional and technical publications on agriculture, including books, serials, audiovisual, and other materials.
Terms and Descriptions
Principles of modern biology emphasizing evolution, ecology, population genetics, and behavior of organisms. 

Ecology – the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. 


Research Tips
Do earthworms stimulate plant growth? 
Subject search (Thesaurus): suggests broader, narrower terms and related terms. Terms used by the database.
“earthworms” + “plant growth”. Connect the terms with an "and" to find articles where both are mentioned.
Keyword search (Advanced mode): searches for your terms and suggests more terms to narrow your search down.

“earthworms” + “plant growth”
or use autofill 
“earthworms effect on plants”  
Example of narrowing a broad topic:

"effect on non-native plants" 
Biological & Agricultural Index Plus: Overview
Term group project

Rapid Ecological Study (RES).
Explore the steps of the scientific process. 

Formulate a research question on a topic of your choice 

Do a background literature search 

Develop hypotheses that can be tested 

Devise study design 

Perform original group research 

Analyze your results 

Present in written and oral form (group presentation and individual paper) 


Alla Powers

Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural and Environmental Sciences
Possible RES Projects  

1. Build two or more identical miniature land or water ecosystems in a large covered jar or aquarium (edible plants, soil, small herbivores, pond water, air, source of light) and then alter one factor in the ecosystem while keeping all other factors constant to see what changes occur.  

  1. 2. Study the behavior (response to a stimulus of some sort – temperature, light, food, etc.) of small, easily managed animals like aquarium fish, hermit crabs, isopods, or annelids.  

  1. 3. Study the population ecology of those same small, easily managed animals placing different densities in habitats and observing their behavior, aspects of their health, etc. 

  1. 4. Study the growth of plants to various environmental factors (light, soil pH, etc.) 

  1. 5. Test the presence of heavy metals such as lead in water of various environmental sources (lake, link river, parking lot puddles, etc.) 

  1. 6. Test the pH of soil in different environments (burned versus unburned; cultivated versus wild area, etc.) 

Group exercise

Groups search for their topics using Thesaurus vs. Advanced Search.  

  • What worked? What didn’t?  

  • How many results did you get? 

  • Were your results relevant? 

  • Which limiters did you use? 

  • Was your term(s) present in Thesaurus? Was it a different term? 

  • What would you do differently next time?  

Evaluating Results 
Consider the following points when reading a scholarly article: 
1. Know your research question or argument.
You don't have to read the entire article in order.
3. Read critically.
Read the reference section. 
5. Take notes.
Guide created
February 2021