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BIO 111 - General Biology - Cross

For students in Jill Cross's BIO111 class

Meet Your Librarian

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Stella Beratlis
Need help now? We have Research Drop-In Hours Monday - Thursday during Summer 2024: Go to the Ask a Librarian page to get immediate help.

In the Summer, Research Help is available in-person (at East Campus L & LC only) and online from 10 am - 3 pm, Monday though Thursday.

MJC (thus the L & LCs as well) is closed Fri-Sun. during summer semester.
Website Skype Contact: beratliss

Get Help Connecting from Off Campus

All of these resources are free for MJC students, faculty, and staff. 

Why Login

Although the MJC Library would like to offer open access to all of our research resources, license agreements with the publishers of our databases and eBooks require that only MJC students, faculty, and staff be given off-campus access to these resources. 

How to Login

Once you click on the name of a database, you login just like you do for your MJC email or Canvas courses.


  • If you have trouble connecting to one of our databases, first make sure you have Cookies enabled on your Web browser.
  • If you have problems connecting to databases that you could previously, make sure you have cleared your CookiesHistory, and Temporary Internet Files.


Get help at Ask a Librarian


How Are Books Organized?

Library Materials Are Arranged by Subject:

All the materials in the library are arranged by subject. Like other academic libraries, we use the Library of Congress Classification System to assign call numbers to our materials so that books and other materials on similar topics are next to each other on the shelves. 

Call Numbers:

You need to know a book's call number in order to get it off the shelf in the library. Call numbers are a book's address on the shelves; they tell you the subject of the book and make sure that books on the same subject are shelved together.

For More Information, Check Out the Links Below:

Welcome to Research

Biology: Welcome

Hi, I'm Stella Beratlis, one of the MJC librarians. This is a general guide for students interested in locating information related to biology using library resources available at the MJC Library & Learning Center. 
I love working with students at any stage of their research. I can help you in person at the reference desk (I'm at the West L & LC, upstairs in Yosemite Hall), by phone (575-6245), or by email (

More Helpful Guides

Finding Articles

Peer Reviewed / Refereed Journals

What is a journal?

  • Scholarly journals exist to disseminate new & important information within an academic discipline or professional fiel.
  • Journal articles are written by experts who work within these disciplines and fields
  • Journal articles are aimed at an audience of other experts within that discipline or field
  • Journals often contain studies and experiments

Picture of an issue of JAMA Picture of an issue of JSWP


How can I identify a journal?

Look for: 

  • Author credentials such as advanced degrees and professional/academic affiliations
  • Articles that are often substantially longer than articles in magazines and newspapers
  • Heavy use of discipline-specific vocabulary and concepts. 
  • Extensive bibliographies of cited sources.

Where does peer review fit into all of this?

Peer review is a process that some  scholarly journal publishers use to ensure the articles they publish represent the best scholarship currently available. Peer-reviewed journals are sometimes called "refereed" journals. When an article is submitted to a peer-reviewed/refereed journal, the editors send it out to other scholars in the same field to get their opinion on the quality of the scholarship and its relevance and importance to the field. This means that when an article is finally published in a peer-reviewed publication, there is a consensus among experts that the information communicated in that article is of the highest quality.

Not all scholarly publications are peer-reviewed, though it is very common for professors to request peer-reviewed articles to ensure you are exposed to the most credible information within your discipline.

Journals sound intense!

The specific nature of journal articles, combined with the use of specialized vocabulary, means they are not always easy to read for the non-expert. It it is recommended that students have some basic knowledge about their topic before delving into scholarly information. This basic knowledge might be gleaned, for instance, from some of our Background Information databases below. Be sure to scroll down the databases page to see these.

Using Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar is a vertical search engine, searching only a select portion of the web. It searches across many disciplines to find journal articles, books, theses, court opinions, and content from academic publishers, professional societies, and a select academic web sites. 

Only some of the sources on Google Scholar arei available in full-text format, though you can also connect Google Scholar to the MJC Library so it will identify those sources available through the Library databases. To configure this, go to "hamburger menu" and choose Settings, then choose Library Links. You can link to the Modesto Junior College by typing it into the search box and selecting it. 

There is no way to limit to peer-reviewed journals, but you can easily search journal names to determine their status.

An MJC Librarian can help you access Google Scholar, add the MJC Library to the settings, conduct effective searches, and determine if the journal articles you find are peer reviewed.

Recommended Databases

^ Basically, click the checkbox that says "peer reviewed"  in the search filter options. 


Recommended Databases to find Peer Reviewed Articles

Organizing Your Research

Research Management Tools

It is a best practice to use a personal content management  tool to organize your own reference material which could be articles, data sets, books, websites, images and more. These tools will save you time and allow you to work more efficiently.

Reference management software programs, web tools, and browser extensions allow you to organize your research, collect and cite sources, create bibliographies in a variety of styles, add your own notes and keywords to your citations. Many reference managers work with word processing software to format in-text citations and bibliographies for papers and theses, allow you to share references, and enable you to attach or link PDFs to a citation record.

Primary vs. Secondary Research Articles

Primary vs. Secondary Articles

Definitions of what is primary or secondary differs across the disciplines. For the sciences, this is how we would define the different types of sources:

Primary source literature in the sciences:

  • documents the results of original research

  • is written by those who have conducted the research

  • includes firsthand information about their methodologies, data, results, or conclusions.

Secondary source literature in the sciences:

  • summarizes, compares, critiques, or interprets the primary literature.

Tertiary sources in the sciences:

  • are collections of primary and/or secondary sources.

Characteristics of primary sources in the sciences include:

  • Report original research, ideas, or scientific discoveries for the first time

  • Report results/findings/data from experiments or research studies

  • May also be referred to as primary research, primary articles, or research studies

  • DO NOT include meta-analyses, systematic reviews, or literature reviews - these are secondary sources

  • Are frequently found in peer-reviewed or scholarly journals

  • Should explain the research methodology used (randomized controlled trial, etc)

  • Frequently include methods, results, and discussion sections

  • Are factual, not interpretive

Flow of scientific information diagram

Journal Titles

Finding Full Journal Title

What's the Full Title of the Journal Abbreviation? 

Scientific publications often include citations that have abbreviated journal titles. For example:

Kenyon L, Harrison NA, Ashburner GR, Boa ER, Richardson PA.1998. Detection of a pigeon pea witches’-broom-related phytoplasma in trees of Gliricidia sepium affected by little-leaf disease in Central America.Plant Pathol. 47:671–80.

In this example, Plant Pathol. stands for the journal Plant Pathology. To identify the title of a journal that you are looking for, consult the following guide to Scientific Journal Abbreviations (created by Kevin Lindstrom, Univ. of British Columbia):

Science and Engineering Journal Abbreviations

Finding Web Resources

Search Smarter

You don't want to wade through millions of Web pages. By using a few tricks, you can focus your searches relatively easily to those authoritative, reliable sources you want to use.

  • Use key search terms - Use the same search terms you used successfully to find books and articles.
  • Know your search tool - Use advanced search features to control your search. For example you can limit your search in Google to just search government or educational Web sites by limiting to a specific domain. Learn more at Google for Researchers.
  • Use search tools you can trust - Google Scholar indexes scholarly literature on the Web.

You can search Google Scholar below:

Google Scholar Search

Don't Reinvent the Wheel

Top Level Sites

One of the best ways to begin the Web portion of your research is by identifying top-level sites. It works like this:  Think of what kind of information you want, and then try to think of an agency, organization, or institution who tracks and publishes information on that topic.  For instance:

For Information on…

You might try visiting the…

Breast Cancer

National Cancer Institute

History of football

National Football League

West Nile Virus

Center for Disease Control

Air Pollution

Environmental Protection Agency

Disappearing California Farmland

California Dept. of Agriculture

Nuclear Waste

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission


Top level sites will not only be a likely source of high-quality information on your topic, but will also often provide links to other relevant sites that you can use to learn more about your topic.

Other ways you can identify appropriate top-level agencies include:

  • “Contact Information” sections included in the MJC Library article databases, CQ Researcher and Issues & Controversies
  • Agencies, organizations, and publications mentioned in books and articles you’ve already found
  • Discussions with your librarian and professor

Why Evaluate?

You need to ensure that you're using the highest quality sources of information for your academic work. As you gather information for your research project, you'll look at many different sources: books, articles from databases, Web documents, interviews, videos, and more.

You can feel pretty confident that books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's research databases are reliable and credible because you know those have gone through a traditional editorial process; someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made and then deemed them suitable for publishing. You still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and suitable for your project but you can feel confident that it is a credible, reliable source.

When you use sources from the Web there often is no editor. It is your job, then, to evaluate those Web sources to make sure they are reliable and useful. Remember, the first source that comes on from your search is not necessarily the best source to use for your research. It is up to you to be a knowledgeable consumer of information.

Use the CRAAP Test for Credibility

Finding information today is easy; it's all around you. Making sure the information you find is reliable is your challenge.

When you use Google or any social media to get your information how do you know it can be trusted? How do you know it's not biased?

You can feel pretty confident that books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's databases are reliable because someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made before publishing them. You still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and suitable for your project but you can feel confident that it is a trustworthy source.

Make sure that each and every source you plan on using in your paper or research assignment passes the CRAAP test.


Evaluate your sources: The CRAAP Test


For more information on evaluating your sources, check out our CRAAP Test: Evaluate Your Sources guide.

Watch the brief video below to see how this works.

Writing and Presentation Help

Writing Help

The MJC Library & Learning Center has a number of resources that can help and librarians can lead you to web resources that may also be useful. In addition to contacting the MJC Writing Center to get help with your papers, the following are some recommended books and web resources to help you write well: 

Presentation Help

The MJC Library & Learning Center has a number of resources to help you with your presentation; check the resources below or make an appointment with a librarian:  

Images Online

Finding Images Online

Images, songs, videos, other non-textual works are covered under intellectual property laws, even if they don't have a copyright symbol. If you're looking to use an image, make sure you either use public-domain work (no permission or attribution required) or look for material which is licensed for use (try searching for images licensed through Creative Commons). 

However, for instructors and students, in general, images used in a classroom presentation, for a scholarly lecture, or in an unpublished assigned paper, fall under the concept of Fair Use or the TEACH ACT.  Fair use is an exception to the exclusive rights granted by copyright. For further information, consult Circular 21 of the United States Copyright Office. So you don't necessarily need to ask for permission. However, you still need to provide an attribution for the image; technically, a entry for the image should go into your References list as well. 

Keep in mind that if you want to present your image in a PowerPoint, it should be at least 72dpi, and about 1024x768 pixels. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service images image search. All federal materials are public domain.

Google Search (images). use limiter "site:gov" 

Creative Commons Images search 

Copyright-Friendly Portal



Citing Images

Your image source should be attributed with both in-text citation as well as a corresponding entry in your References list. 

Use a Caption: A reader should not have to refer to the text to understand the image. Explanatory text should include title, owner/artist and where the image is stored. In APA you must provide a copyright attribution in addition to citing item when you reproduce it in the body of your work. See Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, 2.12. p. 38.  For educational projects, look to instructor's instruction for further guidance. 

CITING images

In general, citing images can be complex. But don't fret; just do the best you can. Find photographer or artist's name; a date the photo was taken or when the image was created; where the original is stored; and where you found it (URL or publication information). Construct a citation as best as you can with that information. 

Here's a quick guide from Cornell University. 

Citing Sources

What is Plagiarism?

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is using the ideas, words, creative works, or expressions of a source other than yourself without giving them proper credit. Plagiarism can range from unintentional (forgetting to include a source in a bibliography) to intentional (buying a paper online, using another writer’s or AI ideas as your own). Beginning writers and expert writers alike can plagiarize. Plagiarism does not apply only to written works; it also applies to images, graphics, charts, music, videos, etc. that you use in your research.

This brief video from Eastern Gateway Community College explains plagiarism and shows you ways you can avoid it.

Consequences of Plagiarism

You need to understand that plagiarism is a serious charge in your school work and in the professional world.

This form of Academic dishonesty applies to individual as well as group work and may result in partial credit, no credit, or failure of the exam or assignment. In addition, your instructor may forward the situation to the Office of Student Success for further disciplinary action such as suspension or removal from the course or college in accordance with the YCCD Board Policy and Procedure 5500: Standards of Student Conduct.

Best Practices for Avoiding Plagiarism

There are many ways to avoid plagiarism, including developing good research habits, good time management, and taking responsibility for your own learning. Listed below are some specific tips:

  • Don't procrastinate with your research and assignments. Good research takes time. Procrastinating makes it likely you'll run out of time or be unduly pressured to finish. Plan your research well in advance, and seek help when needed from your teacher or from the Library & Learning Center.
  • Commit to doing your own work. If you aren't sure about how to complete an assignment, how to get started, or what your teacher's expectations are, talk with your teacher. This includes considerations when approaching group work. Make sure you clearly understand when your teacher says it's okay to work with others on assignments and submit group work on assignments, versus when assignments and papers need to be done individually. 
  • Take careful notes throughout your research process and as you begin drafting your paper. One good practice is to clearly label within your notes the ideas that are your own (e.g. writing "ME" in parentheses) and ideas and words from other sources (e.g. using a citation such as "Smith, 2005, p. 14" or something to indicate author, source, source date, and page number if there are pages). You'll need this information for your reference list or citations anyway, so you'll benefit from good organization from the beginning.
  • Cite your sources. Always cite the work, words, ideas and phrases from a source other than yourself that you use directly or indirectly in your paper. Regardless of whether you found the information in a book, article, website, or AI and whether it's text, a graphic, an illustration, chart or table, you need to cite it. When you use words or phrases from other sources, these need to be in quotes. Check out the Format Your Paper & Cite Your Sources research guide to learn how to cite your sources. 
  • Understand good paraphrasing. Simply using synonyms or scrambling an author's words and phrases and then using these "rewrites" uncredited in your work is plagiarism, plain and simple. Good paraphrasing requires that you understand the original source, that you use your own words to summarize a point or concept, and that you put quotation marks around any unique words or phrases you use from the original source. Good paraphrasing also requires that you cite the original source -- this gives credit to the idea, even if it is in your words. 

Source: University Library. "Understanding Plagiarism." Research & Course Guides, Iowa State University, 25 Jan. 2024,

APA Style, 7th Edition

APA Style, 7th ed.

APA Tutorial

APA tutorial

In October 2019, the American Psychological Association made radical changes its style, especially with regard to the format and citation rules for students writing academic papers. Use this guide to learn how to format and cite your papers using APA Style, 7th edition.

You can start by viewing the video tutorial.


Formatting Your Paper

The Rules

For help on all aspects of formatting your paper in APA Style, see The Essentials page on the APA Style website.

  • FontAPA recommends you use:
    • sans serif fonts such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, or
    • serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10-point) Computer Modern (the default font for LaTeX)
  • Line SpacingIn general, double-space all parts of an APA Style paper, including the abstract, text, block quotations, table and figure numbers, titles, and notes, and reference list (including between and within entries). Do not add extra space before or after paragraphs.
    • There are exceptions for the title pagetablesfiguresfootnotes, and displayed equations.
  • MarginsUse 1-in. margins on every side of the page.
  • Paragraph Alignment and Indentation:
    • Align the text of an APA Style paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin uneven, or “ragged.”
    • Do not use full justification for student papers.
    • Do not insert hyphens (manual breaks) in words at the end of line. However, it is acceptable if your word-processing program automatically inserts breaks in long hyperlinks (such as in a DOI or URL in a reference list entry).
    • Indent the first line of each paragraph of text 0.5 in. from the left margin. Use the tab key or the automatic paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program to achieve the indentation (the default setting is likely already 0.5 in.). Do not use the space bar to create indentation. 
    • There are exceptions for the title pagesection labelsabstractblock quotationsheadingstables and figuresreference list, and appendices.

Paper Elements

Student papers generally include, at a minimum: 

Student papers may include additional elements such as tables and figures depending on the assignment. So, please check with your teacher!

Student papers generally DO NOT include the following unless your teacher specifically requests it:

  • Running head
  • Abstract
  • Author note

Page Order

For complete information on the order of pages, see the APA Style website.

Number your pages consecutively starting with page 1. Each section begins on a new page. Put the pages in the following order:

  • Page 1: Title page
  • Page 2: Abstract (if your teacher requires an abstract)
  • Page 3: Text 
  • References begin on a new page after the last page of text
  • Footnotes begin on a new page after the references (if your teacher requires footnotes)
  • Tables begin each on a new page after the footnotes (if your teacher requires tables) 
  • Figures begin on a new page after the tables (if your teacher requires figures)
  • Appendices begin on a new page after the tables and/or figures (if your teacher requires appendices)

Sample Papers With Built-In Instructions

To see what your paper should look like, check out these sample papers with built-in instructions.

Headings Organize Your Paper (2.27)

APA Style uses five (5) levels of headings to help you organize your paper and allow your audience to identify its key points easily. Levels of headings establish the hierarchy of your sections just like you did in your paper outline.

APA tells us to use "only the number of headings necessary to differentiate distinct section in your paper." Therefore, the number of heading levels you create depends on the length and complexity of your paper.

See the chart below for instructions on formatting your headings:

Levels of Headings


Video Tutorials

Use Word to Format Your Paper:

Use Google Docs to Format Your Paper:

Reference List Format (9.43)

Placement: The reference list  appears at the end of the paper, on its own page(s). If your research paper ends on page 8, your References begin on page 9.

Heading: Place the section label References in bold at the top of the page, centered.

Arrangement: Alphabetize entries by author's last name. If source has no named author, alphabetize by the title, ignoring A, An, or The. (9.44-9.48)

Spacing: Like the rest of the APA paper, the reference list is double-spaced throughout. Be sure NOT to add extra spaces between citations.

Indentation: To make citations easier to scan, add a hanging indent of 0.5 in. to any citation that runs more than one line. Use the paragraph-formatting function of your word processing program to create your hanging indent.

See Sample References Page (from APA Sample Student Paper):

Sample References page

Elements of Reference List Entries: (Chapter 9)

Where to find reference information for a journal article

References generally have four elements, each of which has a corresponding question for you to answer:

  • Author: Who is responsible for this work? (9.7-9.12)
  • Date: When was this work published? (9.13-9.17)
  • Title: What is this work called? (9.18-9.22)
  • Source: Where can I retrieve this work? (9.23-9.37)

By using these four elements and answering these four questions, you should be able to create a citation for any type of source.

For complete information on all of these elements, checkout the APA Style website.

This infographic shows the first page of a journal article. The locations of the reference elements are highlighted with different colors and callouts, and the same colors are used in the reference list entry to show how the entry corresponds to the source.

To create your references, you'll simple look for these elements in your source and put them together in your reference list entry.


American Psychological Association. Example of where to find reference information for a journal article [Infographic]. APA Style Center.

Reference Examples (Chapter 10)

Below you'll find two printable handouts showing APA citation examples. The first is an abbreviated list created by MJC Librarians. The second, which is more comprehensive, is from the APA Style website. Feel free to print these for your convenience or use the links to reference examples below:

You can view the entire Reference Examples website below and view a helpful guide to finding useful APA style topics easily:

Missing Reference Information

Sometimes you won't be able to find all the elements required for your reference. In that case, see the  instructions in Table 9.1 of the APA style manual in section 9.4 or the APA Style website below:

DOIs and URLs (9.34-9.36)

The DOI or URL is the final component of a reference list entry. Because so much scholarship is available and/or retrieved online, most reference list entries end with either a DOI or a URL.

  • DOI is a unique alphanumeric string that identifies content and provides a persistent link to its location on the internet. DOIs can be found in database records and the reference lists of published works.
  • URL specifies the location of digital information on the internet and can be found in the address bar of your internet browser. URLs in references should link directly to the cited work when possible.

When to Include DOIs and URLs:

  • Include a DOI for all works that have a DOI, regardless of whether you used the online version or the print version.
  • If an online work has both a DOI and a URL, include only the DOI.
  • If an online work has a URL but no DOI, include the URL in the reference as follows:
    • For works without DOIs from websites (not including academic research databases), provide a URL in the reference (as long as the URL will work for readers).
    • For works without DOIs from most academic research databases, do not include a URL or database information in the reference because these works are widely available. The reference should be the same as the reference for a print version of the work.
    • For works from databases that publish original, proprietary material available only in that database (such as the UpToDate database) or for works of limited circulation in databases (such as monographs in the ERIC database), include the name of the database or archive and the URL of the work. If the URL requires a login or is session-specific (meaning it will not resolve for readers), provide the URL of the database or archive home page or login page instead of the URL for the work. (See APA Section 9.30 for more information). 
  • If the URL is no longer working or no longer provides readers access to the content you intend to cite, try to find an archived version using the Internet Archive, then use the archived URL. If there is no archived URL, do not use that resource.

Format of DOIs and URLs:

Your DOI should look like this:

Follow these guidelines from the APA Style website.

In-Text Citations

The Rules

APA Style uses the author–date citation system, in which a brief in-text citation points your reader to the full reference list entry at the end of your paper. The in-text citation appears within the body of the paper and briefly identifies the cited work by its author and date of publication. This method enables your reader to locate the corresponding entry in the alphabetical reference list at the end of your paper.


Each work you cite must appear in the reference list, and each work in the reference list must be cited in the text (or in a table, figure, footnote, or appendix) except for the following (See APA, 8.4):

  • Personal communications (8.9)
  • General mentions of entire websites, whole periodicals (8.22), and common software and apps (10.10) in the text do not require a citation or reference list entry.
  • The source of an epigraph does not usually appear in the reference list (8.35)
  • Quotations from your research participants do not need citations or reference list entries (8.36)
  • References included in a statistical meta-analysis, which are marked with an asterisk in the reference list, may be cited in the text (or not) at the author’s discretion. This exception is relevant only to authors who are conducting a meta-analysis (9.52).

Formatting Your In-Text Citations

Parenthetical and Narrative Citations: (See APA Section 8.11)

In APA style you use the author-date citation system for citing references within your paper. You incorporate these references using either a parenthetical or a narrative style.

Parenthetical Citations

  • In parenthetical citations, the author name and publication date appear in parentheses, separated by a comma. (Jones, 2018)
  • A parenthetical citation can appear within or at the end of a sentence.
  • When the parenthetical citation is at the end of the sentence, put the period or other end punctuation after the closing parenthesis.
  • If there is no author, use the first few words of the reference list entry, usually the "Title" of the source: ("Autism," 2008) See APA 8.14
  • When quoting, always provide the author, year, and specific page citation or paragraph number for nonpaginated materials in the text (Santa Barbara, 2010, p. 243). See APA 8.13
  • For most citations, the parenthetical reference is placed BEFORE the punctuation: Magnesium can be effective in treating PMS (Haggerty, 2012).

Narrative Citations 

In narrative citations, the author name or title of your source appears within your text and the publication date appears in parentheses immediately after the author name. 

  • Santa Barbara (2010) noted a decline in the approval of disciplinary spanking of 26 percentage points from 1968 to 1994.

In-Text Citation Checklist


Use NoodleTools to Cite Your Sources NoodleTools

NoodleTools can help you create your references and your in-text citations.

See How to Use NoodleTools Express to Create a Citation in APA Format

Additional NoodleTools Help