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Biology: Summarize article

Biology information

Call Numbers

Library of Congress Classification

The Library of Congress [LC] Classification system is used by Indiana State University Libraries for assigning call numbers to the bulk of its collections. The following chart provides a very simplified breakdown of the LC system for Science and some of the science subject areas, represented by specific letters and letter combinations.

      Science (General)

QA    Mathematics
QB    Astronomy
QC    Physics
QD    Chemistry
QE    Geology
QH    Natural history - Biology
QK    Botany
QL    Zoology
QM   Human anatomy
QP    Physiology
QR    Microbiology

But note that biotechnology is found under TP for Chemical technology. Biology is a very broad science!

TP248.13-248.65     Biotechnology

Reading Call Numbers

How Literature is Structured

The Olin*Kroch*Uris Libraries and Cornell University Library provides a useful diagram of the relationship between primary, secondary, and tertiary literature. Page Two illustrates how to take advantage of this relationship to dig down into your research topic.


Reference and Instructional Services are available for ISU students.

Do you have a question about research? Reference assistance is available in a variety of ways:

  • Drop by the Ask Desk during regular library hours.
  • Phone:  800-851-4279 or 812-237-2580
  • E-Mail by submitting a form (24 hour response)
  • Chat with Librarian during regular library hours
  • Some librarians currently collaborate with faculty to offer classroom support using the Blackboard course management system.

Students can learn about the library research process through on-line interactive library tutorials and research guides

Students may receive subject-based instruction focused on their specific research needs by contacting a librarian subject specialist.


Circulation Services provides help with billing services, reserves, and stacks maintenance.

Assignment in Nutshell

Choose a science article that is at least 4 pages in length from a popular science magazine  and write a summary of the article.

Popular Science Pubs Online Tips

Here is a suggestion for help finding online articles from specific popular publications using the library databases.

  1. Go to the library homepage at 
  2. Click the box labeled Databases.
  3. Scroll down and click Academic Search Complete.
  4. In the first text box, enter American Scientist or  Audubon or  Discover or  National Geographic or  New Scientist or  Popular Science or  Science News or  Scientific American or  Smithsonian or The Scientist or Cosmos Magazine or Popular Mechanics
  5. In the drop down list to the right, select SO Journal Name
  6. Click Search.

Skim through the articles and select one you find interesting for your assignment. Note that the journal titles retrieved will include additional titles, like American Behavioral Scientist. This is because we searched for the words American and Scientist in the SO Journal Name. (SO means SOURCE.)  These other titles may be scholarly academic peer-reviewed journals and may use more complex professional language. You will have to evaluate them for appropriateness to the assignment.

In news sources and popular magazines, sometimes the article is very short. If you get too many results in which the article is only a paragraph long... 

  1. On the left, click Show More
  2. Scroll down to Number of Pages and select greater than 1
  3. Click Search

Print Journals

To search for specific ISU print and electronic journal, magazine, or newspaper subscriptions, we recommend the following:

  1. Go to the ISU Library homepage at
  2. At the top of the webpage, click Searches
  3. Click Classic Catalog. The Catalog window opens. Click Advanced Search
  4. Search for the journal/magazine/newspaper title as a Title and the term "periodicals" as a Subject.

    Title: new york times
    Subject: periodicals
  5. Examine all retrieved records for your journal, magazine, or newspaper. Read more detail about a journal by clicking on the title of the record. Look at the information under "Holdings" to see if ISU has the date you need.
  6. Write down the Call Number and the Location (Periodicals, Gov Docs, Stacks, etc.).
  7. In the ISU Library building, go to the shelving location and use the call number to find the correct journal. "Current Periodicals" are on the First Floor. All other print library journals and magazines are located in the library Basement.
  8. Photocopy or scan the article using the (free) scanners or (fee) copiers on the First Floor.

‚ÄčStudents taking all distance learning classes (and, therefore, are assumed to not have easy access to ISU's campus) can request that Interlibrary Loan send them physical materials owned by ISU's Cunningham Memorial Library. Some materials, such as DVDs and reference materials, do not qualify.

Popular Science Pubs in Print

You can go to the ISU Library to the Periodicals Section and browse through print issues of some popular science magazines to choose your article. Choose from among the following popular science publications to find something readable for the non-scientist. Below, the librarian has noted the locations in the library of these various popular science magazines. 


The ISU Library also has online access to some of these science magazines. In those cases, the ISU Library Catalog will provide a link to show you the online access to full-text. Click the title in the Library Catalog that says [E-Magazine/E-Journal] Realize that you may have to obtain a copy of the full-text article, if required by your professor. If the databases do not provide you the full-text, the call number and location of the print issue is provided below.


Below is a list of reputable popular science magazines. Many scientists read these in their youth before they became scientists.


Feynman: What is Science?

“In general, we look for a new law by the following process. First we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right. Then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is – if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.”

Feynman, Cornell 1964, “The Character of Physical Law”, Messenger Lectures, grabadas BBC


Identifying Scholarly Material

The key difference between scholarly and non-scholarly publications is that scholarly publications are "peer-reviewed" by specialists to include high quality content in articles. Scholarly journals may also be called "peer-reviewed journals" or "academic journals."

When your professor does a research project, he writes a report about the research and sends it to a scholarly journal that other specialists will be reading. The editor of the journal sends the new submission to other specialists in the field to look at. They review the new article to see if it is good enough to publish in this journal. They look at the quality of the research experiment, among other things. This "peer-review" adds another level of validation and fact-checking to the article before it reaches you and me. This does not mean that "bad" articles don't get published but it helps to have other eyes who already know the discipline look over the article first.

Scholarly journals are publications intended for subject specialists as the audience. Because they have a limited audience and because the peer-review process is time-consuming, they are often expensive. They keep costs down by using few or no pictures and rarely use color. The covers are often simple and plain. The language is technical and specialized for other professionals. The language can be difficult to understand by non-specialists. They often include original research reports with a methodology and references. They often have unstimulating titles like Journal of Biology.

Popular magazines are written for the public. Because they have such a big audience, they can make a lot of money, which makes subscription costs lower. Issues often include glossy photos and eye-catching advertisements. They may have interesting titles like National Geographic or Scientific American. Articles may be written by non-specialists who may or may not understand the subject matter well. Article topics are chosen to entertain and increase readership. Articles may cover research done but are usually reports about research publications located in scholarly journals or interviews with the researcher. The articles are understandable by the non-specialist and can therefore be a valuable method to inform non-specialists of scientific activities.

Trade journals are a third category that fall between popular and scholarly journals. Trade journals are written by people in an industry for other people in that industry. For example, the oil industry has publications about the news, business, products, practices of its workers, which include scientists, salespeople, and other employees. Trade journals use color pictures and advertisements. The language may be more technical since they aren't specifically interested in the public as readers. Articles usually do not include references or abstracts.

What it is and how to avoid it

Academic integrity is a cornerstone of the University's commitment to the principles of free inquiry. Students are responsible for learning and upholding ethical, professional standards in research, writing, assessment.

Copyright has also become an interesting subject with the growth of the Internet. The following resources can assist you as you attempt to "stay legal":

Subject Guide

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