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BIO 212 Genetics Lab: Home

Selecting Sources

When doing your research you want to make sure you are selecting appropriate sources for your research, in most cases this will be a scholarly journal article, but in some cases it may be a website.  This may be confusing because the vast majority of items you will be getting will be on the web. 

How do you tell if an item you find on the web is a Journal Article?

There are examples of different types of journal articles on this page, but the primary differences between journal articles and websites are:


Journal Title, and Publisher

Volume, Issue, Date and Pages.

A journal article will always have an author, and it will always be easy to find. It is very important to be able to determine the authority of information, and the author is a very important element of the authority.

A journal article is published by a journal that has the purpose of spreading authoritative scientific information in a field. The journal editors ensure that the material is suitable for the journal. While there are different levels of quality in journals, there is quality control, unlike websites which can be put up by anyone.

Journal articles are always dated, and generally indicate the volume, issue, and pages of the journal the article appears in.  With newer electronic-only journals some do not have pages indicated.

How do I cite a journal I found on the web?

You cite a journal article you found on the web as a journal article, not as a website.

The general pattern is:

 author, (date) title, journal title, volume, issue, pages.

This is an example

Sokolowski, M. B. (2001). Drosophila: genetics meets behaviour. Nature Reviews Genetics, 2(11), 879-890.

Using Websites

Websites are not generally a good idea to use as sources, there can be exceptions, but you want to be very judicious when selecting appropriate sources. You want to be certain that you are getting your information from a solid scholarly source, and not from something less appropriate. You would be amazed at how many student papers are on the web. You don’t want to cite someone’s AP Biology paper in your lab report.  There is also a great deal of completely wrong information on the web.

Information from the National Institutes of Health, other Government Agencies and prominent research facilities can be good choice for information.

A good guideline is:

If you do not know where the information comes from, don’t use it. 

Secondary Sources

You may choose to select a secondary source for one of your references. These sources are usually magazines or websites, and do not present the original scientific research. 


Secondary articles are great to get you started in your research but do not have the content that you need to fully inform your research. Secondary articles are generally shorter and much less in-depth than primary articles.  They often do not have an author, so it is hard for you to determine the authority of the article.  Many magazine articles do have authors, but the authors are journalists, rather than scientists. 

The article below is from the magazine Science & Spirit and is a single page article.

It would be cited in the bibliography page as:

Keller, J. C. (2005). Be fruitful and multifly. Science & Spirit, 16(6), 21.


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Review Articles

Review articles are another type of article appearing in a scientific journal. Rather than reporting on original research, like a primary research article, a review article reports on the current state of knowledge about a topic, by presenting recent research about the topic. 

An example of a review article is: 

You would cite this item:

Uryu, O., Ameku, T., & Niwa, R. (2015). Recent progress in understanding the role of ecdysteroids in adult insects: Germline development and circadian clock in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Zoological Letters,1(1), 1-12.

To cite this within your article you would write:

(Uryu et al., 2015)

For more detail about citing, see the guide for citing in APA 7th.

Primary Literature

A primary research study is a study based on observation or experimentation. 

Some examples of studies could be:

A study of the efficacy of a drug compared to placebo

A comparison of two different treatments for a disease

A comparison of the success of two (or more) different diets

Primary research studies can be found in many different databases, but PubMed is an excellent place to find research for this course. PubMed is a database primarily of research studies, but it also contains review articles, letters and commentaries. 

To determine if you have a primary research study, begin with the abstract. It should describe the study, who it was performed on, how it was performed and briefly whsat the results were.

An example is below:


The effect of weight loss on obesity-associated endothelial dysfunction is not clear because of conflicting data, demonstrating both improvement and no change in endothelial function after weight loss in obese subjects. A 2-year prospective study (n = 121) was conducted to examine: (1) the effect of obesity and weight loss (either a low-carbohydrate or and low-fat diet) on flow mediated vasodilatation (FMD), a measure of endothelial function.


Participants reduced body weight by 7.1% ± 4.4%, 8.7% ± 6.8%, 7.1% ± 7.8%, and 4.1% ± 7.7% at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months, respectively with no significant differences between the low-fat and low-carbohydrate groups.


Endothelial function was inversely correlated with waist circumference, triglyceride level, and directly correlated with leptin in obese persons prior to weight loss. These weight losses did not confer any improvements in FMD. There were no differences between the low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets in FMD at any time point. At 6 months (r = 0.26, P = 0.04) and 1 year (r =0.28, P = 0.03), there were positive correlations between change in FMD and change in leptin but not at 2 years.


There was no significant improvement in endothelial function after 7.1% ± 7.8% weight loss at 1 year and 4.1% ± 7.7% at 2 years, achieved by either a low carbohydrate or a low fat diet.


The study will have several sections. Sometimes the sections will be named slightly different things, but they generally include: Introduction, Literature review. Participants, Methods, Results, and Conclusions.


If you have any questions, you can always ask a reference librarian.


Additional Citations

You may need to cite databases and software. 

If you use Primer3  

It gives you an example of how it wants to be cited at the bottom of the page. 



If you use FlyBase 

you wouls cite it as in the example below


Untergasser A, Cutcutache I, Koressaar T, Ye J, Faircloth BC, Remm M, Rozen SG (2012) Primer3 - new capabilities and interfaces. Nucleic Acids Research 40(15):e115
Koressaar T, Remm M (2007) Enhancements and modifications of primer design program Primer3 Bioinformatics 23(10):1289-91 

dos Santos G, Schroeder AJ, Goodman JL, Strelets VB, Crosby MA, Thurmond J, et al. FlyBase: introduction of the Drosophila melanogaster Release 6 reference genome assembly and large-scale migration of genome annotations. Nucleic Acids Res. 2014;43(Database issue):D690–7.

Primary Research Articles

Primary Research articles are nearly always presented in academic journals. They report on the process and results of primary research. They contain sections on: literature review, methods and materials, results and conclusions.  Sometimes the sections have slightly different names.  Primary articles tend to be more complex than other types of literature, but the abstract can help give you a general understanding of what will follow in the article. 

Below is an example of a journal article. (click on image for full article)


You can tell it is a journal article because you can see the title of the journal, the volume, the pages and the date. This information is in the top left hand corner in the above example, but it can be on the opposite side, or at the bottom depending on the journal. 

If you were going to cite the above journal in your bibliography, it would be cited as:

Shulman, J. M. (2015). Drosophila and experimental neurology in the post-genomic era. Experimental neurology274, 4-13.


To cite the article within the text you would cite it as:

(Shulman, 2015)


When using APA Parenthetical citation you list authors up to 5 when citing for the first time. If there are more than 5 authors, then you use et. al  For example (Jones et. al, 1999) For more information on APA Citation, refer to the APA Citation Guide linked at the bottom of this page.

Here ia another example from an online Journal


The Citations would Look like this:

Gibert, J. M., Peronnet, F., & Schlötterer, C. (2007). Phenotypic plasticity in Drosophila pigmentation caused by temperature sensitivity of a chromatin regulator network. PLOS Genetics 3(2):e30.

When cited in your paper, it would look like this:

(Gibert, Peronnet, & Schlötterer, 2007)


Sample Bibliography

To cite your information you want to make sure it is cited properly.  Many databases, and tools like GoogleScholar have citation toolsd. Make sure you proofread their citations, because while they are good, they are not foolproof. 

The second and subsequent lines on a bibliography should be indented, because of the difference in monitor formats, it may not always appear that way in the text below. Look at the pdf if you need an example.


Your bibliography should reflect the sources you have used for your research. The main sources should be journal literature, rather than websites and magazine articles.

Your sources should be in alphabetical order by first author and properly formatted. See the full APA guide below for more detail.

Here is a sample (it is a sample for format, not necessarily indicative of articles that would be good for your individual research)



Ellis, K., Friedman, C., & Yedvobnick, B. (2015). Drosophila domino exhibits genetic interactions with a wide spectrum of Chromatin Protein-Encoding Loci. Plos ONE, 10(10), 1-14. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0142635

Huang, Y., Xie, J., & Wang, T. (2015). A fluorescence-based genetic screen to study retinal regeneration in Drosophila. Plos ONE, 10(12), 1-19. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144925

Keller, J. C. (2005). Be fruitful and fultifly. Science & Spirit, 16(6), 21.

Singh, B. N., & Yadav, J. P. (2015). Status of research on Drosophila ananassae at global level. Journal Of Genetics, 94(4), 785-792.

Yanzhu, L., Golovnina, K., Zhen-Xia, C., Hang Noh, L., Serrano Negron, Y. L., Sultana, H., & ... Harbison, S. T. (2016). Comparison of normalization and differential expression analyses using RNA-Seq data from 726 individual Drosophila melanogaster. BMC Genomics, 171-20. doi:10.1186/s12864-015-2353-z

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