• Library Search
    • The library search engine, filters available for peer-reviewed journal articles.
  • Web of Science
    • A large multidisciplinary database useful for finding scientific literature and analyzing citations.
    • Can search Web of Science Core Collection or All Databases which includes Medline (PubMed) among others.
  • Scopus
    • A large multidisciplinary database useful for finding scientific literature and analyzing citations.
  • PubMed
    • A database from the US National Center for Biotechnology Information covering health and biomedical research.
  • Google Scholar
    • A broad search for academic sources, which can include free sources not available in other databases.
  • Bioline International
    • Biosciences journals published in developing countries
  • BioOne
    • Journals published by small societies and non-commercial publishers
  • JOVE
    • Peer-reviewed video articles documenting techniques and protocols in biological sciences
  • TAIR
    • Database of genetic and molecular biology data for the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana


This is not a complete list

Other Platforms/Search Tools

If the Carleton library doesn't have it...

Library Search

  • Omni is the library search engine.
  • It searches most of the journal articles, books, ebooks, journal titles, games, music, videos, government information, and maps in the library.
  • You can limit your search results to books by selecting Books/eBooks from the left hand menu.


Choosing search terms

  • Choose nouns as search terms rather than verbs.
  • Avoid using a whole sentence, instead select the main ideas from your research question
    • For the research question What is the impact of hydroelectricity on rivers
    • Search for hydroelectricity and river

Controlled vocabulary

  • Some databases have a list of terms used to index articles in a consistent manner.  These terms can be used to search for relevant material.
  • This list may be referred to as:
    • Thesaurus
    • Subject Headings
    • Taxonomy


  • Use synonyms to search for an item/phenomenon. 
    • For example: climate change can be synonymus with global warming

Search techniques

  • Quotation marks ("") - use to search for a phrase.
    • For example: "climate change"
  • Asterix (*) - use to find words with the same root. 
    • For example: fish* will find fish, fishes, fishing, etc.
  • AND and OR
    • use AND to combine search terms, both of which you want to find in an article.
    • use OR to combine synonyms, either of which you want to find in an article. Use brackets to group the synonyms. 
      • For example: ("climate change" OR "global warming")


  • Use database filters to narrow down and focus the results you find. 
    • For example:
      • Category or Topic
      • Document Type
      • Date
      • Search within

Discover new search terms

  • As you read through a list of search results, take note of any new terms that are relevant to your topic.  Search using these new terms.

Tracking citations

  • Web of Science and Scopus can be used to track citations
    • References - look at the references a relevant article used (looking backward)
    • Citing - look at the articles that cite relevant articles (looking forward)

Review articles

  • Use a recent review article to get an overview of a topic and use the bibliography to find relevant research.
Content last reviewed: January 26, 2021