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BIOL 350 - Cell Biology / Williams: What Information Sources Do You Need?

... a guide for Dr. Gene Williams' Cell Biology class!

Is This A Primary Research Article?

A research article - also known as a primary source - can be distinguished from its journalistic cousins by a few distinct features.  Before you decide on a source for your presentation, make sure it fits *both* of the two main criteria below:  


  • The abstract is full of active verbs:  we measured; we analyzed; I sampled; we collected; I surveyed; we dissected  - - all verbsl that make it clear that the author or authors of the paper actually DID something, and didn't just read about what other scientists did.  

  • The paper should be written in a clear, research-article style.  This means that it starts off with an abstract, and then has a Materials & Methods section, Results, Analysis, and then a formal Conclusion section.

The History of Scientific Research Articles

In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research. There are thousands of scientific journals in publication, and many more have been published at various points in the past. Most journals are highly specialized, although some of the oldest journals such as Nature publish articles and scientific papers across a wide range of scientific fields. Scientific journals contain articles that have been peer reviewed, in an attempt to ensure that articles meet the journal's standards of quality, and scientific validity. Although scientific journals are superficially similar to professional magazines, they are actually quite different. Issues of a scientific journal are rarely read casually, as one would read a magazine. The publication of the results of research is an essential part of the scientific method. If they are describing experiments or calculations, they must supply enough details that an independent researcher could repeat the experiment or calculation to verify the results. Each such journal article becomes part of the permanent scientific record. The history of scientific journals dates from 1665, when the French Journal des scavans and the English Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society first began systematically publishing research results. Over a thousand, scientific journals were founded in the 18th century, and the number has increased rapidly after that.


What Are You Looking For?

There is a huge, HUGE difference in all of the information that exists out there in the big wide world.  There are journal articles (several different types), there are blog entries, there are letters to the editor, there are newspaper articles, edited chapters, entire books, the list goes on and on and on and on..............


........for this particular assignment, you need to find primary journal articles for background information on your topic of cancer cells.  You need to find information on murine melanomas - - even more specifically, the B16-F10 and B16-F1 cell lines and what water-soluble compound, that you could readily find at a grocery store or a drugstore, that would have a significant effect on those cells...


The details of the assignment are as follows:

  • You will be working in groups of 4.


  • Each of you will find three (3) primary journal articles on your chosen water-soluble compound, and will upload them into your shared RefWorks folder (none of your articles can be the same!). To get started finding your articles, click on the 'Where To Find Primary Articles' tab up at the top.  


  • Your shared RefWorks folder must follow this naming protocol so that Dr. Williams can understand who is in your group:  BIOL350_LastName#1LastName#2LastName#3LastName#4. (Example:  BIOL350_WilliamsEricksonBarsePrice)


  • Each group member will independently write and submit a three-page proposal plus a one-page protocol of how you would use your specific chosen compound on the murine melanoma cells.  All citations must be done in the Journal of Cell Biology style, details of which can be found on the 'Citing in JCB Format' tab at the top of the page.