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University of Southern MaineLibraries

Microbiology: Home

Key Resources in Microbiology

These resources contain basic overview information that can be useful when you're just beginning your research.

You can also search URSUS for biology-specific encyclopedias and handbooks, many of which are accessible online! A few examples are below, but there are many more.

Below are a few of the "top" journals in biology by the number of times their articles have been cited. To see many more journals in biology, including sub-specializations, see our Journals by Title page and select "Health and Biological Sciences" in the Subjects area.

Below are just a few of our databases useful for biology research. For more databases with biological sciences content, check out our Databases A-Z page and select "Biology" from the drop-down.

You can search for books in our library and other libraries using the links below. If you're not sure how to find what you're looking for, ask us!

The following open textbooks may be helpful to you!

Primary sources in the sciences are first-hand accounts of original research or projects, written by the researchers themselves.

Secondary sources in the sciences analyze, summarize, or discuss information from one or more primary sources.

For example, a journal article written by a group of researchers about their experiment would be a primary source. A newspaper or magazine article summarizing the journal article for a non-scientific audience would be a secondary source. A book or review article that summarizes the researchers' journal article plus many others about similar topics to draw broad conclusions would also be a secondary source.

Confusingly, primary and secondary sources are often found in the same databases, so you have to apply a little thoughtful analysis to the item you are looking at to determine if it is a primary or secondary source.

Examples of Primary Sources:

  • Journal articles reporting on original research
  • Conference papers
  • Interviews
  • Lab notebooks
  • Patents
  • Technical reports
  • Theses and Dissertations

Examples of Secondary Sources:

  • Books
  • Review articles
  • Textbooks
  • Stories in popular media (newspapers, magazines, television) that summarize one or more research studies


Flowchart used with permission of Cardiff University Library.

Searching Tips and Tricks

  • Most databases allow for searching with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).
    • Use AND to focus your search and combine different aspects of your topic
    • Use OR to broaden your search and find sources that use different words for the same concept.
    • Use NOT to omit certain terms from your results.
  • Use an asterisk (*) to truncate words if you want to search for all words with that root. For example, “environment*” would search for environment, environmental, environmentalism, etc.
  • Put quotes around a phrase that you want the database to search as a phrase, rather than as individual words.
  • Group synonyms inside parentheses using OR between each one

Example:

URSUS is the combined library catalog for the entire University of Maine system. You can search the entire system, or select University of Southern Maine Libraries in the drop-down.

Other helpful tips:

  • If you find a book that is relevant to your needs, look at the "Subject" area of the book's record. Click on a few of the subjects to find other similar books.
  • In many of the book records, you can look at the table of contents - click the link under the "Inside This Book" heading. This can help you determine if a book is right for your research.
  • If USM doesn't have a book you want, click the "Request" button at the top of the page and we can get it for you through interlibrary loan.

Most databases, as well as URSUS and MaineCat, assign subjects to books and articles. A subject is a designated word or phrase that describes an idea or concept and groups all articles or books about that concept together.

  • Subjects are also variously called descriptors, controlled vocabulary, headings, or index terms.
  • To search by subject you have to know the exact subject term. Most databases that use subjects have a Thesaurus that you can use to look up subject terms. You can also do a keyword search, find a book or article that is relevant to your research, and look at the subject terms assigned to it.
  • URSUS and MaineCat use Library of Congress Subject Headings and each database has their own list of subject headings, so you have to look up subjects in each database independently.

There are many ways you can get research materials from other libraries. In the vast majority of cases, there is no charge to you for this service!

  • From URSUS, use the  button at the top of an item's page.
  • From MaineCat, use the  button in the middle of an item's page.
  • From a database:
    • Select the item you want and find and click the  or "Article Linker" button (the placement on the page will vary by database).
    • If the library does not have access to the item, find and click the "Submit an Interlibrary Loan Request" link under Step 3 in the right panel.

Microbiology Research News Feed

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