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Course & Subject Guides

Writing in BIOSC 1540 - Oakland Campus

This guide is intended to assist students in the Computational Biology course, BIOSC 1540, with the research and writing for their project.


This guide is intended to assist students in Biological Sciences 1540 with the library research and writing for their class project. It includes both specific guidance for this assignment and more general information that applies to working with the scientific literature.

The Assignment

For your assignment you will be writing about one particular protein agreed upon with your instructor. The first step in your preparation will be to search the scholarly literature to identify a relevant review article. Reading review articles is a good way to get an overview of an area of research and to find references to original research articles. For more details, check the Review Articles section under the Scientific Literature tab.

To identify your review article you will use PubMed, one of many databases that index articles in the scientific literature. PubMed is a good choice for your assignment because it focuses on the biomedical literature, including relevant basic science. For examples of how to search in PubMed, check the PubMed tab. For more on distinguishing PubMed from similar databases, see PubMed, Medline, or PubMed Central? below.


PubMed, Medline, or PubMed Central?

For your literature search you will be using the PubMed database to identify relevant articles. PubMed is an important and widely used database that indexes the biomedical literature, but you will also come across the names Medline and PubMed Central. What's the difference?

  • PubMed
    • This is the free web-based version of the Medline database and indexes all aspects of the biomedical literature and the underlying science. PubMed contains everything indexed in Medline, plus some newer articles that have not yet been evaluated for inclusion in Medline and some articles that did not meet the criteria for inclusion. These articles will not have the full indexing of those in Medline.
  • Medline
    • The original database from the National Library of Medicine that indexes the medical and biomedical literature, its coverage begins around 1950. Articles that meet criteria for inclusion are fully indexed with Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).
  • PubMed Central
    • This is not an indexing database, but a repository for full text articles with free access. Articles written about recent research funded by the NIH are required to be deposited in PubMed Central within 12 months of being published. PubMed Central (PMC) is separate from PubMed, but linked to it. All articles listed in PubMed Central are available in full text, but not every article indexed in Medline and PubMed is included in PMC. Also, due to copyright and licensing restrictions, some articles in PMC are the final author's version that was approved for publication, but not an actual copy of the article as it appeared in the published journal.