Objective: Despite perceived ubiquitous access to information via Google and other popular search engines, access to trustworthy and/or peer-reviewed scholarly/scientific literature remains problematic. And with multiple systems for accessing information, knowing where to begin can be a difficult and overwhelming task; particularly if one is not an expert or familiar with a specific area of study. Specifically, this guide will address methods for beginning your research, finding journal articles, and other sources of information.


American Society of Plant Biologists

Society devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences and publishers of plant journals Plant Cell and Plant Physiology.

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Botanical Society of America

Membership society dedicated to supporting professionals and educators in the field of botany. Provides information on membership, publications, conferences, and employment.

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International Plant Names Index (IPNI)

A database of the names and associated basic bibliographical details of all seed plants. Its goal is to eliminate the need for repeated reference to primary sources for basic bibliographic information about plant names. The data in the IPNI comes from three sources: the Index Kewensis (IK), the Gray Card Index (GCI) and the Australian Plant Names Index (APNI).The data are freely available. Search by plant name, author, publication, or collector.

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Museum of Paleontology

From U.C. Berkeley, the Museum provides an online Introduction to the Plant Kingdom that includes a information on the fossil record of plants; life history and ecology; systematics; and morphology.

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PLANTS Database

Single source of standardized information about plants. This database focuses on vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. The PLANTS Database includes names, checklists, automated tools, identification information, species abstracts, distributional data, crop information, plant symbols, plant growth data, plant materials information, plant links, invasive species references, and other plant information. Also includes States PLANTS list.

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Starting Points

Encyclopedias and Overview Literature
If you are not familiar with a topic when beginning your research a great place to begin is with a specialized encyclopedia. These types of materials are excellent resources for summarizing what is known by scientists, what questions or issues remain, and often include suggestions regarding directions for future research. Often, these materials are authored by highly regarded scientists who have made lasting contributions to the particular field of research. The following list provides a topical overviews, bibliographies, and other related information in the study of plant biology. The library maintains many more sources than those listed here, so it is important to search the library's catalog and/or browse the the shelves around these titles to locate other relavant materials.


As you begin researching a topic, you may not be aware of any published material on your subject. And with multiple systems for accessing information, knowing where to begin can be a difficult and overwhelming task; particularly if one is not familiar with that specific area of study. However, knowing what sources are available for finding this information, and how to search through these sources is a critical function of a well-trained scientist/researcher.

To help you begin learning about core bibliographic databases in the study of plant biology and systematics a list of these resources is provided below. These should also help you find scientific/scholarly journal articles related to your presentations for this class. Please note that each database has a limited scope, so depending on your topic it may be necessary to search one or more of these databases.

Key Databases (i.e. indexes) for Finding Articles

Note: These databases are stand alone resources and primarily citation-based; i.e. they will not generally contain the full-text of the articles listed. You will need to search the library's catalog to determine if the library subscribes to the journal referencing your article. By searching the library's catalog you will be able to determine if the library has access to your article.

If you find that the library does not subscribe to the journal referencing your article or is missing the journal issue that contains your article, use the library's Interlibrary Loan service and the library will obtain it for you from another university. This is a FREE service! All you need to do is give us the citation and we'll do the rest. All you need to do is create an account so that you can submit the information to us and so we know who to send the article to when it arrives. This service also applies to books.

Don't wait until the last minute to do your research. Interlibrary Loan requests can take anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks to fill so make sure you give yourself enough time to obtain the best information possible for your paper!


Citations to articles in the major agricultural journals worldwide.

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BIOSIS Previews

BIOSIS Previews is the world's most comprehensive reference database for life science research. It covers original research reports and reviews in traditional biological and biomedical areas. It also covers references to primary journal literature on vital biological research, clinical research, medical research findings, and discoveries of new organisms.

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Scholarly journals in anthropology, art, art history, communication studies, criminology, ecology, economics, education, English, film studies, foreign languages and literatures, geography, geology, history, mathematics, music, philosophy, political science, public and international affairs, religion, social work, sociology, statistics, theatre, and other humanities and social sciences. 

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Reviews and Important Journals 

  1. American Journal of Botany
  2. American Scientist
  3. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden
  4. Annual Review of Plant Biology
  5. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology
  6. The Botanical Review
  7. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society
  8. Current Opinion in Plant Biology
  9. International Journal of Plant Sciences
  10. Journal of Experimental Botany
  11. Journal of Phycology
  12. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society
  13. Natural History
  14. New Phytologist
  15. New Scientist
  16. Photosynthesis Research
  17. Phytologia
  18. Phytopathology
  19. Plant and Cell Physiology
  1. Plant Cell
  2. Plant Cell and Environment
  3. Plant Ecology
  4. Plant Engineering
  5. Plant Journal
  6. Plant Molecular Biology
  7. Plant Molecular Biology Reporter
  8. Plant Physiology
  9. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry
  10. Plant Science: an International Journal
    of Experimental Plant Biology
  11. Plant Science Bulletin
  12. Plant Science Letters
  13. Plant Species Biology
  14. Plant Systematics and Evolution
  15. SIDA, Contributions in Botany
  16. Systematic Botany
  17. Taxon
  18. Trends in Plant Science

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