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BSC1011C - Empirical Research: Databases

Learn to locate and identify scholarly research for Biology 1101

Accessing Databases

To access the library catalog, log into your Atlas account and click the "Search the Library" link on the left side of the "Courses" tab. The library catalog will open in a new window. From this page, do a simple keyword search, or click "Advanced Search" for more options. 

Sometimes you may be prompted to log into the library site using a borrower ID and PIN. Use your VID number (with the V) as the borrower ID. Your PIN is the last four digits of your VID number.

WorldCat Interlibrary Loan


WorldCat ArticleFirst is the easiest way to request an article not owned by Valencia College from another local college or university. When you click the WorldCat link above, pick "ArticleFirst" from the dropdown menu, and enter your search terms. Once you find the right article, click the title to see if it is available through Valencia libraries. If no Valencia logo appears, click the blue "Find Text?" button and the article may open in a new window. If it does not, click on the link that says "Borrow this item from another library" and fill in your personal information. You will be notified when the article is available to you.

Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar is another great database to locate free abstracts.

Google Scholar Search

What is an Empirical Article?

This research assignment requires you to find empirical articles to use in your research. An empirical article is an article from the library databases that presents research that is based on actual observations or experiments conducted by the author. 

How can I tell if an article is empirical?

  • Check the source: Empirical articles are usually found in scholarly journals, not magazines or newspapers. Journals like Genetics and Animal Biology both publish studies that are empirical.
  • Read the abstract (summary): If it mentions any study, questionnaires, participants, or measurements that the author conducted, it is empirical.
  • Format: Many empirical articles are broken down into sections, such as "Methodology", "Results", and "Conclusion". Finding these or similar headings in an article is a good indication that it involves a study or experiment.
  • Length: Empirical articles are usually very lenghty, at least 5 pages.
  • References: Does the article have references listed at the end? Scholarly researchers have to cite their sources, just like you!


If in doubt, always ask your instructor or a librarian!


2009. "Disproportionate sales of crime guns among licensed handgun retailers in the United States: a case–control study." Injury Prevention 15, no. 5: 291-299. Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text, EBSCOhost (accessed October 3, 2013).

Helpful Databases



GreenFILE offers a unique perspective on the positive and negative ways humans affect the environment. Drawing on the connection between the environment and disciplines such as agriculture, education, law, health and technology, GreenFILE serves as an informative resource for anyone concerned about the issues facing our planet.



JSTOR is a database that houses articles in the sciences and social sciences. When using this database, be sure to choose "Advanced Search" and use the check boxes to mark all biology disciplines fitting your search.



Academic Search Complete is a multi-disciplinary database with access to articles from many different disciplines such as Literature, Health, Science, Business, and more.



CINAHL provides full-text access to more than 560 journals from the fields of nursing and allied health, including biomedicine, alternative medicine, consumer health, and 17 allied health disciplines.


TIP: When searching these databases, try searching your term as well as the words experiment, empirical, or study to ensure that your results are empirical in nature.

Looking for Abstracts?

If you're completing an assignment that does not require a full-text scholarly journal article, only an abstract (a summary of a scholarly article), PubMed is a good place to find free abstracts, and sometimes full-text articles on science and medical topics.

PubMed is free database that comprises more than 22 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.