Our first instinct nowadays is to use the web. The web is extremely useful for searching the library for information. You can find what books and journals the library has and check their availability. You can search databases that contain hundreds for journals for key words or author names. For most journals the abstracts are available by web and many journals provide the articles by web. To access these OSU library services use the following web address: and use the Research Gateway. The databases of most use to microbiologists are AGRICOLA, Biological and Agricultural Index, Biological Abstracts/BIOSIS and Medline. These databases can be searched by subject and limited by dates, language, etc. At the American society for Microbiology web site,, you can search all ASM journal articles by author or subject. You can use the web to order material by interlibrary loan if our library does not have the particular book or journal you require.

Evaluation of web sites

Many of you want to use the web itself to get information and certainly there is a lot of useful information available on the web. However, anytime you get information from a web site you need to consider the following:

  1. You may waste lots of time on useless sites.
  2. Who wrote the information – what are their credentials and affiliation? Many websites are simply opinions written by people with few facts to back them up.
  3. Even if the person who wrote the information is a Ph.D. at a well-established University, are they writing about material they have expertise in? Do they know what they are talking about? Do they have extensive experience in that particular field of study?
  4. Most material on the web is not peer reviewed. If a person submits an article for publication in a scientific journal, prominent scientists working in the same area normally review the article. Most articles are changed before publication. Peer review improves the quality of journal articles, but unreviewed web sites do not benefit from this process.
  5. Even if the material on the web is written by an expert and has been peer reviewed, how stable is the site? The author may decide to change the site tomorrow and the information you used will no longer be there.
  6. Most scientists who put information on the web will also publish the material in a journal. If they obtained the material from another journal, they will cite the article in their web site. It is always better to consult the original reference.
  7. Information on the web may come from a company that is trying to persuade the audience of the value of a product. The information may be biased.

<< Understanding Journal Articles || Revision Tips >>