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BIOL 2309: Biology Project Lab

Getting Started

Starting the Research Process

How do I start?  

Try searching websites (including blogs) for an overview of your topic.  See the Websites and Blogs box on this page for pointers on evaluating websites.  Depending on your topic, textbooks may also be helpful.

Reading a review article relevant to your topic can be a great way to get a sense for the 'big picture' of the work.  You can use PubMed or Web of Science to limit your search results to just review articles.  Or try Google Scholar.  Access Google Scholar through Snell Library's website to link to full text content available to current NU affiliates.

How can I search for more information on this topic?

For research projects in biology, it can be fruitful to use keywords such as:

  • Species name (e.g. pyogenes)
  • Protocol name (e.g. RNAi / RNA interference)
  • Protein/s or gene/s of interest (e.g. Cas9 or topoisomerase)

The scientific literature is so active that typically, more specific terms will yield better results than general ones.  

If you've found one key resource on your topic, searching for the keywords designated by the authors of that paper can also be a quick way to surface more sources.   Mining the references/bibliography is another good way to easily access more on-topic resources.

Help, I'm drowning in terminology! 

Try a reference work such as the Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology.

Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology

Other options include textbooks and websites - but you'll need to vet those websites, of course!  

Pronunciation Websites

Websites and Blogs

Researching with Websites or Blogs

Some science blogs:


Safety Data Sheets

Chemical safety sheets, from NU EHS

Find Government Resources

If your research question touches upon genetically modified organisms or foods, you may find good sources in government documents.  

For those, try the federal government research guide, particularly these sections: