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Research Guides


Source Types

In the sciences, a primary source describes original research, while a secondary source analyzes or comments on a primary source or sources.  For example, a research article is primary literature because it describes an original experiment and its results, while a review article is secondary literature because it collates multiple research articles to describe the current state of the field. A tertiary source is an index or consolidation of primary and secondary sources.

Examples of primary sources: 

  • Research articles
  • Theses and dissertations
  • Conference proceedings
  • Reports
  • Patents 
  • Unrefined data sets 

Examples of secondary sources:

  • Review articles
  • Data compilations
  • Most books

Examples of tertiary sources:

  • Encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Field and identification guides

Academic Databases

The databases below can help you find primary and secondary literature in the sciences. While searching, you can narrow your results to primary literature by using filters on the left of the page.

Books @ The Library

Biology and botany books in print are shelved on Honnold 1 near the cafe. E-books and print books are searchable via Library SearchIf you don't see a specific journal, ebook or print book or even article that you need you can request to have it purchased through Library Search. 


Books are are important in the sciences because they take a broader view of a topic that does a research article or a review article. When you are new to a topic or beginning a big research project (like a senior thesis or a literature review), starting with books is a better strategy than diving straight into research articles. 


In academic libraries in the United States, books are grouped by subject and the call numbers correspond to those subjects in a system called the Library of Congress Classification System. For more about how to find a book in our library, see our Finding a Book FAQ.


In order to limit your search to RSABG Library holdings, go to the Advanced Search page of the Library Search. Scroll towards the bottom of the page and under Library select Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Your search will now bring up only items from the RSABG Library collection.

RSABG Limiter

eBooks & Reference Resources

eJournal Collections by Subject

Browzine provides access and browse e-journals from different publishers in one simple interface. You can:

  • Read scholarly journals in a format that is optimized for tablets.
  • Create a personal bookshelf of favorite journals.
  • Be alerted when new issues of a journal are available.
  • Bookmark articles for reading later.
  • Easily save to Refworks, Zotero, Dropbox, or Mendeley.

Browse the collections by subject, made available through The Claremont Colleges Library.

Archives & Special Collections

News & Newspaper Resources

Film and Video Resources