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Biology: Getting Started

A guide to library resources and research in biology and the life sciences.

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Getting started: Biology literature searching

Tackling a new topic?

Try looking for a review article first.  Review articles attempt to summarize the state of research on a scientific topic.  While lengthy, & not generally including the very latest research, review articles are a great way to start to get a handle on a topic.  

Don't overlook the literature cited at the end of the review - the bibliography contains a wealth of information about the key discoveries & main researchers in the field.  

Most databases (including BIOSIS Previews, PubMed & Web of Science below) will allow you to limit your search to include only review articles or literature reviews.  

Not sure where to start? How about newspaper and magazine articles?

If you're beginning your research and are looking for articles in mainstream sources such as magazines and newspapers, aimed at a general audience, try

Academic Search Complete:  to locate newspaper articles, select "newspaper" from the "Publication Type" options.
Nexis Uni:  to locate newspaper articles in the NYT: in the "Find Publication" search box, enter: New York Times

For articles describing primary research using scientific methods, written by experts in the field or scientists, try these biomedical, biology and life sciences databases:


The most comprehensive resource for research in biology, life sciences, preclinical & experimental research, methods & instrumentation, and animal studies. Includes contents of 5,500 life sciences journals


More than just medical literature, PubMed was developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and publishers of life sciences literature. PubMed consists of 26 million citations for biomedical literature from Medline, life science journals and online books.

Web of Science

Web of Science indexes over 11,000 scholarly journals in the sciences (1975-present). Web of Science's strength is in its interdisciplinary focus and its ability to perform citation searching.  Also works seamlessly with EndNote & EndNote Web citation management software.


Recent Biology Acquisitions

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Alissa Link

270 Snell Library

Featured Resource: JoVE, The Journal of Visualized Experiments

What is JoVE?

JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments is the world's first peer-reviewed video journal. JoVE features video demonstrations of advanced science experiments filmed in research laboratories of the leading academic institutions in the world. It helps researchers, faculty, Ph.D. students, post-docs, technicians, and scientific personnel to achieve more productivity, efficiency, reproducibility, and success in their own research.

Snell Library subscribes to Biology, Bioengineering, Immunology and Infection Neuroscience and Science Education Database
JoVE articles are indexed in PubMed, Medline, SciFinder

This month in JoVE: June 2018

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