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Bioinformatics: Getting Started

A guide to library resources and tools for the Bioinformatics program at Northeastern.

Getting started: Finding Relevant Scholarly Literature in Bioinformatics

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:

- For more information on searching PubMed, click here

bioRxiv is a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences.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

For additional literature databases, please click here. For a list of selected genetics and genomics databases, please click here.

Top 5 Things to Know for Bioinformatics Students

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For more immediate help, use one of the Ask A Librarian options.  I'm also happy to meet for in person or web consultations - please contact me for an appointment at

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What is a preprint?

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.  

MIT CommKit - Biology

The CommKit is a collection of guides to successful communication in the biological sciences, written by the Broad Research Communication Lab Fellows.

Within the CommKit, you can find resources to help you create successful documents and presentations. You can find additional guides for sciences outside of Biology here

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