Skip to Main Content
Westminster College Logo

BIO 114/Eng156 The Science & Humanity of Human Disease: BIO 114: Cell Biology of Human Disease

This guide provides resources to support the cluster ENG 156 Literature and Medicine and BIO 114 (Cell Biology of Human Disease)

Assignment Overview

Over the course of the semester each student will work in stages using a range of literature and database sources to expertly research a specific disease.  The final product will be 8-page minimum research paper covering their topic from various points of view. The content of the research paper will also be presented orally to the class at the end of the semester.                                                                           

 Due Dates 

Topic Selection       Due: Tues 2-10-15
Literature Search and Outline Due: Mon 2-24-15
Paper Draft Due: Tues 3-31-15
Presentations Due: Tues 4-23 or 4-29-15        
Revised Final Paper Due: Friday 5-2-15    

Types of Sources

In your final paper, you will need to find and use at minimum four (4) tertiary sources, two (2) secondary sources, and two (2) primary sources.

For more information on these types of sources, see the boxes below.  If you'd like a little bit more information about these types of sources in the health sciences, check this out.

Step 1: Choose a Topic

Use the following website to help you determine your topic.

Step 2a: Finding Tertiary Sources

What is a tertiary source?

For this assignment, a tertiary source = a trustworthy website.  What, you might ask, constitutes a "trustworthy" website?

  • Wikipedia?- NO
  • Government sites (such as Genetics Home Reference or Clinical YES
  • Sketchy Herbal Heath Sites with no citations and lots of ads? – NO
  • Genetic Disease Sites (such as Orphanet, Genecards or Malacards)? – YES

 When in doubt, ask before submitting a website as a source!

How do I find tertiary sources?

There's nothing wrong with using Google!  You can find wonderful information out there on the web.  But be very careful!  You MUST evaluate each website you use very carefully before deciding whether the information provided is useful.  If you need some guidelines that will help with evaulation, check out the CRAAP Test.

Google Web Search

Step 2b: Finding Secondary and Primary Sources

The following databases will help you to find secondary and primary sources. 

What is a secondary source?

A secondary source reflects on, comments on, or explicaits findings from primary research studies.  This includes journal articles.

How do I find secondary sources?

Use the following list of databases as a place to start.  The WISE Search and the Annual Reviews might be especially helpful to find these types of sources. 

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are the intitial findings and publications of original research.  Examples include case studies and publications presenting findings from original research.

How do I find primary sources?

Use the following list of databases to start with.  You will likely need to take a close look at the search results to find true primary sources.  Be sure to check out the subject terms and to read the abstracts of the articles you are interested in to make your determinations.

Step 3: Cite Your Sources

For this part of the project, you will use the citation style used by the journal “Cell” (See below for an example).  


Last Name, Initial.Initial., Last Name, Initial.Initial., and Last    Name, Initial. Initial. (Publication Year). Article Title. Journal Name Journal Volume Number, Page Numbers.

All citations should be listed in alphabetical order.  Don't forget to use EndNote to collect your research!