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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 can be 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.
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. For more information on searching PubMed, click here.
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.
bioRxiv is a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences. It is operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a not-for-profit research and educational institution. For more information on bioRxiv and its policies, click here.
arXiv is an e-print (electronic preprint) service in the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics. arXiv is owned and operated by Cornell University and is funded by Cornell University, the Simons Foundations, and other member institutions. For more information, click here.
A preprint is an article that is published prior to peer review, allowing scientists to see and discuss works immediately. As these articles are published before peer review, they may not be finalized by authors and some errors may appear. Advantages include the dissemination of scientific information in a timely manner, as the length of the peer review and publication process can be time consuming, and gives the authors the opportunity to receive feedback on their manuscript prior to journal submission. As a reader of preprints, it is important to remember that these articles have not yet been peer reviewed or accepted by a journal. Preprints are typically stored in preprint databases such as arXiv or bioRxiv.