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Lehigh University Libraries - Library Guides

BIOS/MATH 130 Spring 2021

Class Exercise

The exercise below will:

  • give you practice in searching for scholarly journal articles for use in your paper and presentation. Later in the course, you can continue looking for additional articles. The more time you spend searching for references, the better and more focused your paper and presentation will be.
  • give you practice in finding reliable background information sources that will help you understand your overall topic as well as technical terms you encounter when reading the papers;
  • give you practice in putting the articles and background sources into the "CSE" style.

To do the exercise, just follow the steps below, in order.

At the bottom of the page are some post-assignment suggestions. 

Contact the science librarian for help, via Zoom or email. 


Spend two minutes setting up an ILLiad account, if you have not done so already. ILLiad enables you to order articles that Lehigh does not have electronically. Lehigh will order the item for you, or scan it if the print is available. In either case, you will receive an email with a link to the article. You may need to use ILLiad later in the semester or for other assignments or classes. Go here. Click on ILLiad. Fill out required one-time registration information. (If you want a tutorial, see here.) 


If you're off campus, VPN  can help you access articles on the web that you cannot directly access otherwise. NOTE: Even with VPN on, you may be prompted for the Lehigh login and password that you use in accessing Lehigh email.   

When using the library services, make sure to select the "Library/International" option when accessing VPN. The screen where you see that option may be hiding behind another screen, so make sure to look for it!

To set up VPN, see Remote Connectivity - the Lehigh VPN.


Each team will submit answers to the items below, using a Word document that your professor will provide. This document will be part of the team's group proposal.


Go to the background information page of this guide. Find two resources that help you understand technical terminology that appears in the papers you found. These can be encyclopedia articles, books or ebooks, dictionaries, handbooks, a public website (provided it is authoritative) or anything else that can help. They can also be popular literature, such as magazine or newspaper articles. See the page about the distinction between popular and scholarly articles. For this part of the exercise, if you want to select an article, only *popular* articles are relevant. 

  • In the Word document, under "background information resources", record the two sources in CSE format. See the Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism page of this guide.

  • Write one brief sentence, for each resource, explaining how it helps you understand your topic and why you think it is reliable.


Now you are going to find three scholarly articles.

First, review the page of this guide "Scholarly versus Popular Articles".  You will be looking for scholarly, not popular, articles. (Popular articles, such as in magazines and newspapers, can be a good way to find background information, plus they can point you to recent research published in scholarly journals. But their purpose differs from scholarly journal articles.) 

The focus below is on searching Medline for scholarly articles. 

Open Medline (via Web of Science). Note: Medline has other versions as well, including one that is free via  "PubMed", though you need to use Lehigh's version to see the Lehigh Links).

For documentation about searching this version of Medline, see here.

If you do not see the Medline database, click on the the drag down menu for "Select a Database" and select Medline. You should see:   

NOTE: Don't confuse Medline (via Web of Science) with Web of Science itself. These are separate databases. It just happens that you can get to Medline via the Web of Science interface.  


Design a search that draws on the search techniques that we discussed in class.  

Techniques to use when you set up a search statement:

  • Truncation. Example: test* 
  • Logical operators (AND, OR). Example: test* or positiv*
  • Phrase searching. Example: "johns hopkins"   

You can put these together into one search. In the example below, parentheses help to "nest" mini-searches that are processed first, then added to the larger search. Make sure "Topic" is selected as the search type, as in this example:

Click "Search".

Then, go to the left of the search results, which is a list of "records". Here you see a column of filters or limiters you can use to narrow your search. Under the Publication Types limiter, select "Journal Article": 

Goal: find one really relevant article. When you open a search result record, make sure this does not appear: "Document Type: Journal Article; Review" or "Document Type: Journal Article; Systematic Review". You'll look for a "review" article later.

You may have to tweak your search to narrow or broaden it by removing or adding terms. Look at the search results for ideas about new or better search terms. Searching is very iterative.

Tips about tweaking your search:

  •  look at the abstract of the article you found, or go into the full text of that article using Lehigh Links (assuming Lehigh provides access to it), and find new keywords to use in refining your "topic" search or creating a new one  

  • "MeSH" terms may appear (example below) in the Medline record for an article you like. For this exercise, just use them for ideas about how to refine your "topic" search, making sure "topic" is selected, as it was in the example we started with.   NOTE: if you use the MeSH header option from the drag down menu (instead of the "topic" option) when you do a search, or if you restrict your search using the MeSH filter on the left of search results, you may miss out on some relevant results. This is because MeSH headers may not have not been assigned yet to the Medline record. Still, they are a powerful way to search. Contact the science librarian if you get interested in focused searching using MeSH headers. 

Example of MeSH Terms in a Medline record:




  • Maybe you found an article that looks interesting but you want to see if there is one that is more recent, or maybe look around for an even better article for your purposes.  Click on the "times cited" link to find other articles closely related to the first one you found; an article citing another article is related in subject to the first, or it wouldn't be citing it! To bring up citing articles, click on the "times cited" as in the example above.
  • see what articles the first article itself has cited. If you want to use this technique, you need to know how to look up an article if you have its citation, unless that citation is linked from within the article. See "Have Citation, Find Article" below for a trick on how to do that.
  • click on "view related records" to the right after you go into the record.  

After you find one (non-"review") article really relevant to your area of interest, go to the Word document and: 

  • put the article into CSE (Council of Science Editors) reference format. See the "Citing Sources" page of this  guide.
  • put in some sentences about your search statement and what "filters"/"limiters", over and above the limit of the search results to "journal", you may have found useful.
  • mention whether the "Lehigh Links" for this search result enables you to directly link to the full text or whether you would need to order it via ILLiad through Lehigh Links. (No need to order it at this point; just say how you would obtain the article!)
  • mention how many times it has been cited. More recent articles may not have had time to be noticed and then cited. To find the times cited, see the example circled in orange, to the right:

After you find this article, use it to help you find a second article that is also not a "review" or "systematic review" article.

Some ways to use the initial article to find the second article:

  • use the "cited" link out of the first item, to find a second article
  • use keywords or MeSH terms from that first article to tweak your search
  • use "view related records".
  • see if the author of the article has published a second, related article


in your search results, to find a high impact paper, defined as one that is heavily cited, click on the sort option "Times Cited"

After finding the second article, go to the Word document and put in all the same information as for the first article, except this time mention explicitly how you used the first article to help locate the second article.


Find one review article, again related to your topic. A review article discusses the literature about a sub-field and is a good place to find more bibliography but also to develop your background knowledge of a topic.

Run a search on your topic and then go to the left to see the filters. Under "Publication Types", select "journal article" but also select "review" and/or "systematic reviews". If you don't see one of these types of review article come up, you may have to broaden your search.

Here you can see a definition of review articles and "systematic reviews".

In the Word document, put the article citation into CSE reference format and indicate the search statement you used. Also, explain how the review article you found might be useful to you.


For the dataset that your group decided to work on, put it into CSE style format. Again, go to the "Citing Sources & Avoiding Plagiarism" part of the guide.


See the section of this guide about this topic and read some of the resources there.


When you read journal articles or other materials such as books, how do you locate the full text of the article if we have it?

Go to the "Finding Scholarly Articles" page, then the box "Have Citation, Find Article". Click on the link for the tutorial. (CourseSite should come up as the default option; just click on sign in and put in your Lehigh email login and password.)  Watch the tutorial and read the material there. This is important for later in the course.


Then, review the post-assignment suggestions in the box below.

Post-Assignment Suggestions


As you do more searching as you work on your papers, try out other databases that appear in the "Finding Scholarly Articles" page of this guide. 

For example, try Web of Science (WOS), which also lets you find citing articles. (As mentioned, don't confuse WOS with Medline via WOS.)  Restrict on the left of your search results to review articles. You'll also see "citing" links.

The Annual Reviews database only contains review articles.  When using it, sort the results with more recent articles at the top.  Look at the documentation for the database you use to see how to set up searches. 


See the guide about these topics. The writing tips includes suggestions about writing but also discusses how to use Microsoft Word headers when writing. In presentations, include citations to work you used.