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AS 4016 - Senior Seminar

Finding Research

What's a Good Topic?

Many students choose a topic that they already know something about and explore new research in that area. Whatever you choose, make sure you are interested in the topic!

If you don't have an idea yet, browsing through the library's book collection in animal science will present you with a broad variety of subjects. You might also want to scan issues of the Journal of Animal Science or the Journal of Dairy Science to see what scientists are studying.

A quick way to get a feel for how well your area has been researched is to run a search in Google Scholar. If only 10 hits are returned you'll know you have to expand your topic or change your topic. On the other hand, if you get 10,000 hits you'll know you have to narrow down your topic.


When you search Google Scholar, the scientific articles in the databases listed below will be included in your results.  Scholar acts as an umbrella search engine for all of them and displays information when the library has access to the journal. 

However, searching each database individually will give you a better hit rate because of the specialized search "bells and whistles" of the individual database.

Interlibrary Loan

If a book or article you want is not available, use Interlibrary Loan (ILL). The Library can order books and articles from other libraries. This process takes few days but is completely free for DelVal students, faculty, and staff.

Before you submit an ILL, check Google Scholar or Summon to see if we have immediate access or if it is freely available online.

ScienceDirect eBooks

Collecting Scientific Literature

Checklist for Peer-Reviewed Research Article

  Did the author(s) of the article do the actual research?
  Can you find a statement about when the article was accepted for publication?
  Is there a sizable list of references?
  Do the authors assume you are familiar with their topic?
  Is it challenging to read?

If you have answered "yes" to these five questions you have probably located a scientific article.

Writing your Abstract

Writing an Abstract

The contents of this page are borrowed in part from Purdue's Online Writing Lab and UNC's Writing Center.

Your abstract should summarize the key points of your research paper by touching briefly on the following elements:

  1. Reason for Writing -- Why is the topic important?  Why would someone want to read your paper?
  2. Problem -- What issue are you trying to solve? What is your main argument, thesis, or claim?
  3. Methodology -- How did you conduct your research?  What types of data and evidence did you include?
  4. Results -- What did you discover?
  5. Implications -- What are your conclusions and suggestions for the future?

Reread your finished paper and look specifically for the elements included in this list.  Then sit on your paper (or put it away) and write a rough draft of your abstract.  Do not simply copy and paste key sentences from your paper, and do not mention any information that you didn't include in your paper!  When you're ready to revise your rough draft, check for organization, coherence, and content.

Most informative abstracts are generally 200-300 words and one paragraph in length.

A good abstract...

  • offers a concise, coherent, and complete summary of your paper in one well-written paragraph
  • uses an introduction/body/conclusion structure that discusses the parts of your paper (purpose, findings, conclusions, recommendations)
  • discusses the parts of your paper in chronological order
  • includes only the information that you address in your paper (no extraneous details)
  • appeals to a wide audience (even those readers who may not be experts on your topic)

To view examples of abstracts, do a search in any database, or take a look at the abstracts attached to the studies that you found for your paper! Or click the document below...

Formatting your Bibliography

JAS Style Citation Examples


When the author's name appears in the sentence, it does not need to be repeated in the citation.


(Smith and Jones, 1982; Jones, 1988a,b; Jones et al., 1992, 1993).

Smith and Jones (1992) or Smith and Jones (1990, 1992). 

More than two authors

(Jones et al., 1992)

Journal Articles

Journal names shall be abbreviated according to the conventional ISO abbreviations used by PubMed

Last name, Initials, Initials Last name, Initials Last name. Year. Article title, sentence style capitalization. Abbreviated journal title volume(issue, if available):pages. DOI for article published after 2005. 


Perez, V. G., A. M. Waguespark, T. D. Bidner, L. L. Southern, T. M. Fakler, T. L. Ward, M. Steidinger, and J. E. Pettigrew. 2011. Additivity of effects from dietary copper and zinc on growth performance and fecal microbiotia of pigs after weaning. J. Anim. Sci. 89:414–425. doi:10.2527/ jas.2010-2839


Books and articles within edited books

Author. Year. Title, sentence level capitalization. Edition, if available. Publisher's name, publisher's location. 


AOAC. 1990. Official methods of analysis. 15th ed. Assoc. Off. Anal. Chem., Arlington, VA.

Chapter in edited book

Last name, Initials, Initials Last name, and Initials Last name.  Year. Chapter title, sentence style capitalization. In: editor. Book title, sentence style capitalization. Publisher's name, Publisher's location. pages. 


Robinson, P. H., E. K. Okine, and J. J. Kennelly. 1992. Measurement of protein digestion in ruminants. In: S. Nissen, editor, Modern methods in protein nutrition and metabolism. Academic Press, San Diego, CA. p. 121–127.

Theses or Dissertations

Last name, Initials. Year. Title, sentence style capitalization. Thesis type. Academic institution, Location. 


Ward, J.D. 1995. Effects of copper deficiency on performance and immune function of cattle. PhD Diss. North Caroline State Univ., Raleigh. 

Is the example you need missing?

Contact the Library at to request a new example and citation help!

Setting up RefWorks


RefWorks is a new way to collect, manage, and organize research.  You can read, annotate, organize, and cite your research as well as collaborate by sharing collections.

From simple bibliographies to papers formatted with in-text citations or footnotes, RefWorks handles it all. ​To learn more about RefWorks, use our RefWorks research guide.

To create a RefWorks account:

  1. Go to the link below and click Create account
  2. Fill in your information, making sure to use your DelVal email address.  
  3. Go to your inbox and click the email link to complete the activation process. 

Already have an account? Just go to the link below and click "Log In"

Online Tutorials

Getting Help