Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

AIP Student Guide: Home

Research instructions, tips, resources, links for Advanced Inquiry Project students at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

Library Help for AIP Students

Hippo calf and mother, San Diego Zoo

Hippo calf and mother at the San Diego Zoo. © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This site is maintained by the SDZWA Library for the use of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance staff and volunteers. Although we make every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the resources and links may become outdated. If you have suggestions for updates or additional resources, we welcome your feedback.

Research Help

Writing Help

Citation Help

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary source: Authoritative firsthand account, or original creative work

  • Examples: Research data, letters, diaries, speeches, original photographs

Secondary source: Summary, interpretation, critique, or analysis

  • Examples: Encyclopedias, textbooks, reviews, editorials, commentaries

Tip: An article from a scholarly journal or newspaper may be either.

  • Is it an original account (primary), or a review/commentary (secondary)?

Reliable Sources

Peer-reviewed (scholarly) journals have long been the gold standard for publishing research findings. When you search literature databases, look for the option to limit results to peer-reviewed or scholarly journals.

Anyone can publish anything on the internet! The following guidelines will help you identify reliable online information sources:

Warning: Predatory Publishers

Unfortunately, newcomers looking for a quick profit are muddying the waters of scholarly publishing. These so-called predatory publishers do not rigorously review or fact-check articles before publishing, but they falsely advertise themselves as "peer-reviewed." Such scams are becoming disturbingly common.

Before you cite information from a journal, submit a manuscript, or agree to serve on an editorial board, please check the links below and take the following steps:

  1. Confirm that the journal publishes research articles only after they have passed an expert review process.
  2. Confirm that the editorial board consists of reputable experts in the field.
  3. Check the journal's reputation with colleagues or online.

Keep in mind, not all open-access journals are from predatory publishers. Many open-access journals are reputable and authoritative university, society, or other non-profit initiatives.

Google Search Tips

MU Libraries: Guide for AIP Students

Miami University Libraries Website

Contact an MU Librarian

Useful Research Guides

Howe Writing Center

  • Online Consultations 
    • You and your consultant meet in real-time and talk through video, audio, and/or chat. 
    • Send your paper as a Microsoft Word document or Google Doc. Your consultant will provide written feedback.

Useful Databases

All of these are available on the MU Libraries home page at Databases A-Z:

Biology, Conservation, Environment

  • Web of Science is an interdisciplinary database best-known for the natural sciences. Its key feature is citation tracking (look up an article and find related, more recent papers that have cited it. Coverage includes 1965-present.
  • Biological Abstracts/BIOSIS Previews gives the most comprehensive coverage of literature in the life sciences, including journal articles, meeting abstracts, and books. It covers both basic and applied biology broadly, e.g. agriculture, biochemistry, ecology, medicine, neuroscience, and physiology. Coverage includes 1969-present.
  • ScienceDirect is a leading full-text scientific database that offers journal articles and book chapters from more than 2,500 peer-reviewed journals and more than 11,000 books. It currently includes more than 9.5 million articles/chapters and offers sophisticated search and retrieval options.
  • AGRICOLA is the index of the National Agriculture Library. It covers animal welfare, plant science, fisheries, ecology, nutrition, environmental sciences, and veterinary science topics.
  • Environment Complete covers environmental aspects of agriculture, ecosystem ecology, energy, natural resources, marine & freshwater science, geography, pollution & waste management, environmental technology, environmental law, public policy, social impacts, and urban planning.
  • PsychINFO is the principal lit database for basic and clinical psychology and includes excellent coverage of animal behavior and neuroscience literature.


  • ERIC is an education literature database that indexes more than 600 journals. In addition, contributors have given ERIC permission to display more than 115,000 full-text materials in PDF format - at no charge.
  • Education Research Complete covers all levels of education from early childhood to higher education, and all specialties, such as multilingual education, health education, and testing.
  • Education Full Text covers educational topics including administration and supervision, preschool, elementary, secondary, higher, and adult education; counseling and personnel service, teaching methods, and curriculum. It also covers contemporary educational issues.
  • Professional Development Collection is a highly specialized collection of 520 high quality education journals, including nearly 350 peer-reviewed titles. This database also contains more than 200 educational reports.


SDZWA Library: How to Find Books and Articles

SDZWA Library Links

SDZWA Research Guides