BIO 315 - Field Studies in Biology: Coral Reef Ecology

last modified 2018-01-30T16:57:28-05:00

Hi there! I'm Gail Morton your Subject Librarian for Biology and Coral Reef Ecology. This guide will help you find quality information sources for your research in Coral Reef Ecology. You'll primarily be using online databases to find both primary scholarly research and secondary/review articles, but there are useful books and websites to consider too.

Getting Started - The difference between primary and review articles

 Primary research articles are published to present the findings of researchers to the scientific community. They are the result of direct experimentation/measurement/observation. An example of a primary article is Interactions between fangblennies (Plagiotremus rhinorhynchus) and their potential victims: fooling the model rather than the client? Characteristics to look for are:

  • Declaration of intent or purpose is to measure/observe/study
  • Methods used to engage in research are described
  • Observations/Results are presented
  • Discussion/Conclusions drawn are offered
  • Note that a primary article may have a literature review at the beginning, but it doesn't compare in scope to that of a review article (below)

Review articles are published to update the scientific community on research undertaken in a particular area of interest by many researchers. An example of a review article is Morphological skin colour changes in teleosts. Characteristics to look for are:

  • Often longer than primary research articles
  • Declaration of intent or purpose is to review/summarize
  • Lack of Methods or Results Obtained sections
  • Includes a significant number of citations throughout the text.

Finding Articles

Your research for your paper will require the use of one or more online databases to find articles. The following databases will help you to find authoritative and reliable sources of information.

Web of Science (Web of Knowledge/Thomson Reuters)
Web of Science is probably the best place for you to start your research, because it will help you discover articles in the most prestigious scientific journals. While there's no full text directly available here, there are links to help you find full text and/or request articles through Interlibrary Loan. Note that you can limit your search to specific article types (including review articles), date ranges, languages, etc. using the menu on the left once you have submitted your initial search.

Academic Search Complete (EBSCO)
This multi-disciplinary full-text database is quite strong in biology topics and includes a lot of full-text articles. Not everything here is full text, but there is a lot. Beware limiting your search to a 'review' because you may wind up with book reviews.

Contains back issues of scholarly journals in many disciplines. Strong biology coverage, but very little current content. Particularly useful for locating older material and studying the development of scientific knowledge and classification of species.

ScienceDirect (Elsevier)
Citations and some full text to high quality science journals published by Elsevier.
Access Alert! The key to knowing if you have access to a particular article is to note the small 'piece of paper' indicator next to each citation. If it's green, you're in business; if it's white you'll need to request it by Interlibrary Loan.

SpringerLink e-Journals — SpringerLink is the platform for accessing online journals and books published by Springer.
Access Alert! The absence of a padlock symbol means that full text is available.

Wiley Online Library
Wiley Online Library is a multi-disciplinary database that includes full-text journal articles and some full-text reference sources published by Wiley.
Access Alert! An open padlock symbol by an article title means that full text is available.

Search Strategies
  1. Use both the common and Latin names for your species, e.g. yellowbar angelfish or Pomacanthus maculosus
  2. Use wildcards to account for varied word endings, e.g. Reproduc* accounts for reproduction, reproduce(s), reproducing.
  3. Use synonyms or similar words/concepts with 'OR' between them, e.g. procreation or breeding or reproduction - You're essentially saying, "any of these words are acceptable in my results."
  4. Use 'AND' to incorporate essential concepts, e.g. Pomacanthus maculosus and protogyny and harem - You're requiring that all of the words must appear in your results.
Getting the Full Text Article

 Many articles are available in full text through our databases. Sometimes, however, a database will provide only citation information (article title, author, journal title, volume no., issue no., and page numbers) for the article that you'd like to read. If you are not sure about the components of a citation, check out the Anatomy of a Journal Citation guide.

 Quick 'n Easy, 1-2-3:

If you're in a database and you've found a citation with no full text, look for the Find Full Text icon or link which will use our Link Resolver to speedily perform a search of all our electronic holdings for that article in full text.


 1. If full text is available, you'll see a link to the place where it can be accessed:

 FT Link

 2. Otherwise, you'll need to try the 'Search the Online Catalog' link to search our print inventory in the library catalog.

3. If we have no access to your article at Mercer, you can use the Interlibrary Loan link (which only shows when there is no online coverage available) to request that we order it. You must check both online and print coverage before requesting Interlibrary loan, because we won't order something we already have. The InterLibrary Loan form requires that you log in, but after that, most of it will be automatically completed for you.

Quickish and Almost Easy 1-2-3:

If you don't see a 'Find Full Text' link or if your citation is not in one of our databases, and you need to find the full text article:

1. Check for online access to the journal containing your article using the A-Z e-Journal Locator (e-Journals link on the Library Home Page)
The A-Z e-Journal Locator is a searchable, alphabetical listing of all the e-journals that are provided in full text. You will need the citation information (article title, author, journal title, volume no., issue no., page numbers). Search the A-Z e-Journal Locator by journal title (not the article title) and pay close attention to the coverage dates of the access points provided. Then navigate to the appropriate year/volume, issue, and page number if we have access.

2. Check the library catalog by the title of the journal (e.g. Annual review of microbiology, Perspectives in biology and medicine...).
If the library has the periodical, the catalog will give you information about the dates, volumes, and issues that are available. Do a Journal Title search for the journal title. Journals are shelved alphabetically by title and then chronologically on the first floor of the library.

3. Request a copy from another library
If the library does not have the article (or book) you need and it is not available in full text, we will borrow it from another library for you. Use the Interlibrary Loan service. Ensure that you have completed steps 1 and 2 before requesting ILL - We will not order articles to which we already have access.

Ask a librarian
If you need any help at all, please don't hesitate to schedule a research consultation for in-depth assistance. I'm at your service.

Select e-Journals
Select Books & Reference Sources

CASSI – Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index (4 vols.) – Periodical title abbreviations.
Ref Z5523 .C52 1907-2004 pt.1/ pt.2/ pt.3/ pt.4
If you encounter heavily-abbreviated journal titles in a bibliography, use CASSI to find the full journal name.



ReefBase is the official database of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), as well as the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN). The ReefBase Project is housed at the WorldFish Center in Penang, Malaysia, with funding through ICRAN from the United Nations Foundation (UNF). ReefBase gathers available knowledge about coral reefs into one information repository. It is intended to facilitate analyses and monitoring of coral reef health and the quality of life of reef-dependent people, and to support informed decisions about coral reef use and management.

FishBase is a global information system with all you ever wanted to know about fishes. FishBase is a relational database with information to cater to different professionals such as research scientists, fisheries managers, zoologists and many more.  FishBase on the web contains practically all fish species known to science.

World Register of Marine Species
The aim of a World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive list of names of marine organisms, including information on synonymy. While highest priority goes to valid names, other names in use are included so that this register can serve as a guide to interpret taxonomic literature.

Citations and Style