Skip to Main Content

Selected Resources for Graduate Students in Biological Systems Engineering : Literature Searching

Browse this guide to identify library resources to support your research and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Searching the Research Literature

As a researcher at UW-Madison, you have access to a true wealth of information! We subscribe to thousands of journals, hundreds of databases, and maintain a vast print collection. This page provides suggestions for finding (and retrieving) articles from journals within your discipline. Do not be stopped by paywalls! If you are unable to find the article in our collections, we can almost always obtain a copy through our Interlibrary Loan service.

Please contact us if you need assistance. We can help you to construct efficient searches, set alerts, retrieve full text of articles and identify journals in which to publish.

Selecting and Searching Databases by Subject or Type


You can access databases from the library home page ( Use the dropdown menu at the Catalog button to navigate to Databases

There are several ways to browse and to select databases: 

1) Search by the title of the database (for example, 'Scopus').

2) Use the Browse by Subject/Type page to discover databases that index literature on your research topic.

3) Visit the Top 10 Databases page to quickly access a selection of popularly-used databases. 

Note: Additionally, an "Articles Search" can be run from the library home page. The Articles Search runs a search within several databases simultaneously. Filters by date, source, document type (and more) can be applied to the retrieval. There is also an Advanced interface.

Consider the databases listed, below, for conducting your search of the research literature.

Get the Full Text

Follow  Check Find It for availability. A new window will open...  (Find It button) or the "Find It at UW Madison" link in most databases to:

  • get online full text (when available)
  • see if the journal is available in print (Library Catalog)
  • request a copy of the article if full text is not available online ("Request a Copy" link)

If you already have a citation, use this Citation Search to search for your article.

Searching Tips for Online Databases

  • Use AND to combine search terms; retrieve records with those terms, in any order: friends AND communication
  • Use OR to combine similar search terms or synonyms: friends OR peers
  • Use quotation marks ( " ") to search a required phrase: "interpersonal communication"
  • Use an asterisk ( * ) to retrieve singular and plural forms or suffixes for search terns: friend* = friend, friends, friendly or friendship
  • Review "subject headings" or "descriptors" to identify additional and useful search terms.
  • Apply limits or filters to your results (by date, document type, or other).