Biology Research Guide

This guide is a starting point for students doing research in the biological sciences. The resources highlighted in this guide are available at the University Libraries in print or electronic form (sometimes both).

Table of Contents

Finding Books
Library of Congress Call Numbers
Reference Sources
Electronic Databases
Journals in Biology
Internet Resources

Finding Books

  • WSU Libraries Online Catalog.
    Search for books by title, author, subject, or keyword. You can also search for journal titles. Refer to the search hints and tips listed under the search boxes. If you already have a citation, search the library catalog by the journal name (not the article title) to see if WSU owns that particular journal. If you find a citation in a WSU online database, you can link directly back to the catalog to search for the full-text.

  • WorldCat.
    Use this to search library catalogs world-wide for books, journals, maps, manuscripts, etc. Search for a book, and then check the list of libraries that own the item. If WSU does not own the book you want, you can order it through interlibrary loan (ILLiad).

  • ILLiad.
    If you are unable to find the book or article you need at WSU, you can order it through ILLiad, the new WSU Libraries Book and Document Retrieval Service.


Top of Page LC Call Numbers Reference Sources
Electronic Databases Journals in Biology Internet Resources

Library of Congress Call Numbers

Most books, older journals, and other materials relevant to biology research are located on the 2nd floor of Ablah Library. Some materials are in the 1st Floor Reference section and in the Chemistry Library in McKinley Hall. New journals and magazines (usually the current year) are shelved in the Current Periodicals section of Reserve (on the 1st Floor). The call numbers for major biology areas are below:

QD        Chemistry (look for Biochemistry in QD 415--QD 436)
Natural history (including Bioinformatics, Evolution, Genetics, & Ecology)

Human anatomy
QR        Microbiology
Medicine (general) [Located on Lower Level]

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Electronic Databases Journals in Biology Internet Resources

Reference Sources

This section lists some recommended reference books in the field of biology. These books are good sources of basic, background knowledge. Browse these resources for research topic ideas. NOTE: The books located in the 1st Floor Reference Stacks do not check out.

Encyclopedias & Dictionaries

  • Biological Nomenclature. 
    J. Charles.
     QH83 .J43 (2nd floor).

    A simple guide to the principles of scientific naming and the workings of the various Codes of Nomenclature.

  • Dictionary of Bioinformatics & Computational Biology.
    J. M. Hancock & M. J. Zvelebil.
    QH324.2 .D53 (1st Floor Reference Stacks).
    Definitions of over 600 words, phrases, and concepts in the field of bioinformatics listed alphabetically. Also features a comprehensive index of topics, Internet links, and cross-referencing.

  • Elsevier’s Dictionary of the Genera of Life. 
    S. A. Tsur. QH83 .T77 (2nd floor).
    An alphabetical listing of over 5,000 genus names. Each entry includes at least one example of its respective species. Also includes an index of common names.

  • Encyclopedia of Bioethics.  
    S. G. Post. Available Online.
    Alphabetical entries address a wide range of controversial topics in the life sciences and health care. Topics such as Bioterrorism, Cloning, Cybernetics, Dementia, and Managed care are discussed from many points of view. Also includes codes, oaths, and directives related to bioethics, key legal cases, an annotated bibliography, and a detailed index.

  • Encyclopedia of Evolution. 
    M. Pagel. QH360.2 .E54 (1st Floor Reference Stacks).
    Articles cover evolutionary theory as well as areas including developmental biology, social behavior, consciousness, evolution of disease, systematics, population biology, complexity theory, and even art in prehistory. Some biographical articles are also included. Also includes in-depth essays on evolution by notable biologists.

  • Facts on File Dictionary Cell & Molecular Biology.
    R. Hine. QH575 .F33 (1st Floor Reference Stacks). 
    Covers basic terminology and concepts including cell structure, basic molecular biology and biochemistry, molecular genetics, cell metabolism, and laboratory techniques. Appendixes include amino acid structures, the genetic code, and Web sites.

  • Facts on File Dictionary of biotechnology and genetic engineering
    M. Steinberg TP248.16 .S84 (1st Floor Reference Stacks)
    Covers basic terminology and concepts of biotechnology and genetic engineering.

  • Frontiers of Life.
    D. Baltimore. QH302.5 .F76 (1st Floor Reference Stacks).
    Four volumes of in-depth articles covering selected areas of contemporary biology. Volume I: The Origins of Life; Volume II: Cells & Organisms; Volume III: Intelligent Systems; Volume IV: The Living World.

  • Henderson’s Dictionary of Biological Terms.
    I. F. Henderson. QH302.5 .H65 (2nd floor). 
    An alphabetical listing of over 23,000 biological terms from zoology, botany, ecology, environmental, biochemistry, medicine, genetic engineering, and biotechnology. Includes outlines of plant and animal kingdoms as well as virus families.

  • McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Bioscience.
    S. P. Parker. QH302.5 .M382 (1st Floor Reference Stacks). 

    Defines nearly 16,000 terms in the biosciences including anatomy, embryology, physiology, cell biology, morphology, taxonomy, genetics, immunology, virology, evolution, and molecular biology. Valuable appendices are also included.

  • Source-Book of Biological Names & Terms.
    E. C. Jaeger. QH83 .J3 (2nd floor).
    A listing of 12,000 word elements from which scientific names are made. Each entry lists the origin of the word element (Greek, Latin, etc.), its literal meaning, and examples of usage in biology and science.

Other Useful Reference Books

  • International Research Centers Directory. 
    Q179.98 I58 (Reference Desk).

    Comprehensive resource on government, university, independent non-profit, and commercial research organizations in more than 150 countries. Includes "Biological and Environmental Science" and other life sciences indexes.

  • Guide to Reference & Information Sources in the Zoological Sciences.
    D. Schmidt. QL45.2 .S36 (1st Floor Reference Stacks).
    An annotated directory of important resources in the field of zoology including bibliographies, journals, handbooks, and Web sites. Resources are organized in major animal groupings (Invertebrates, Arthropods, Vertebrates, Fishes, Amphibians & Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals).

  • Quantities, symbols, units, and abbreviations in the life sciences: a guide for authors and editors.
    A. Kotyk. QH304.5.Q36 (2nd floor). [also available as an electronic resource]
    Compilation of recommendations for using units, symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms in publications in the biological sciences.

  • Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Style Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers.
    Council of Biology Editors. T11 .S386 (Lower Level).
    Recommendations on how scientific papers, journals, and books should be styled and formatted for publication.

  • Using the Biological Literature: A Practical Guide.
    D. Schmidt.
    QH303.6 .D38 (1st Floor Reference Stacks). [also available as an electronic resource]
    A comprehensive list of sources with emphasis on current materials in the English language. Arranged by broad subject chapters.


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Electronic Databases Journals in Biology Internet Resources

Electronic Databases

WSU subscribes to the following online databases. You can access them on campus or from home with your Shocker Card number. Use electronic databases to search for citations, abstracts, and full-text scholarly articles. For the access page for all the databases listed below, click:

Biology-Specific Databases

  • BIOSIS Previews.
    The world's most comprehensive reference database for life science research. It covers original research reports and reviews in traditional biological and biomedical areas. It also covers references to primary journal literature on vital biological research, medical research findings, and discoveries of new organisms.  Includes coverage from the following fields:  botany, zoology, microbiology, biomedical, agricultural, pharmacology, ecology, medicine, biochemistry, biophysics, bioengineering, and biotechnology. Dates of Coverage: 1988 to present

  • General Science Full Text.
    Citations and abstracts of journal articles from a broad range of science topics. Journals and magazines covered in this database range from very general to specialized research. Dates of Coverage: 1984—1993 (indexing only) and 1993—present (abstracts).

    Covers the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, and preclinical sciences. Citations and abstracts come from more than 4,600 biomedical journals published in the United States and 70 other countries.
    Available in 3 formats:
        MEDLINE CSA (1994—Present)
        MEDLINE PubMed (1966—Present).
    NOTE: The PubMed version is not linked to the WSU Online Catalog so if you find a citation using PubMed you will need to use the journal title and return to the catalog and search to see if WSU subscribes to the journal for the time period of the article you are seeking. 

Other useful databases for Biology Research

  • Applied Science Full Text.
    Covers the fields of engineering, technology and science with comprehensive abstracting and indexing of scientific and technical English-language periodicals. Dates of Coverage: 1983—1993 (indexing only) and 1993—present (abstracts). 

  • GPO Access.
    A service of the U.S. Government Printing Office. Use GPO Access to search or browse official, full-text information from the three branches of the Federal Government. Databases are updated based on their print equivalent. Dates of Coverage: 1994—Present.

  • Dissertation Abstracts Online.
    Contains citations and abstracts of dissertations and masters theses from institutions in North America and Europe. Dates of Coverage: 1861—Present. (Master thesis abstracts are available from 1988—Present.)

  • GPO Monthly Catalog.
    Contains U.S. government documents including Congressional reports, hearings, debates, and records; judiciary materials; and documents issued by executive departments (Defense, State, Labor, Office of the President, etc.). It includes a bibliographic citation in each record. Dates of Coverage: 1976 to present.

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Electronic Databases Journals in Biology Internet Resources

Journals in Biology

WSU Libraries subscribe to a variety of print and electronic journals relevant to the biological sciences. You can find biology journals in the following ways:

  • To find print and electronic journals, search the WSU Online Catalog under “Journal Title.” You can also click “Set More Limits” and select under item type “Serial,” then search by keyword. If the journal is electronic, an access link will be in the record. If the journal is in print, the record will show you which volumes are available and where they are located (Current Periodicals for new issues, or the stacks for older, bound issues).
  • To find full-text electronic journals, click “E-journals” on the library home page. Search or browse journals by title or browse journals by subject (select “Health & Biological Sciences” for a list of biology-related journals)
  • Biology e-journal categories listed within Health & Biological Sciences include:
  • To find journals in print, search the catalog using relevant keywords or try browsing the library shelves in the call number range of your subject. For instance, if you need journals on microbiology, search in the QR section of the 2nd floor and Current Periodicals.

IMPORTANT: When searching for journals, pay close attention to the dates of coverage, as they vary. Make sure WSU subscribes to the issue you need. If the issue is not available at WSU, order your article through interlibrary loan (ILLiad).

Selected General Biology Journals

This section lists some recommended journals in the field of biology. WSU subscribes to these journals in electronic and print form. Check the catalog record for available dates.

  • American Scientist.  per LJ85 .S502.
    Articles of interest to a wide range of scientists. Includes a book review section.

  • BioScience.  per QH301 .B6x.
    Published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Contains articles, reports, book reviews, and professional opportunities.

  • New Scientist.  per Q1 .N52.
    Contains science and technology news, commentary, feature articles, and book reviews in general science.

  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Series B (Biological Sciences). (Online only).
    The world’s longest-running scientific journal contains fundamental, classic papers for leading scientists.

  • Science News.  per Q1 .S76.
    A weekly news magazine that covers the entire spectrum of sciences.

Reviews of the Literature

Review articles summarize current biology research, giving readers a quick overview. Try browsing these for research topic ideas. If you find an article of interest, refer to its bibliography for more resources.

  • Annual Review of Medicine.  R101 .A55x.
    Reviews of important areas of medicine.

  • BioEssays.  per QH506 .B363.
    News, reviews, and commentaries in molecular, genetic, cellular, and physiological biology.  

  • Perspectives in Biology & Medicine.  per QH301 .P4x.
    Interpretive essays, new hypotheses, biomedical history, and humorous articles.

  • Quarterly Review of Biology.  per QH301 .Q3.
    Reviews of recent biological research, including books and software. Back issues available in the JSTOR electronic database.


Top of Page Finding Books LC Call Numbers Reference Sources
Electronic Databases Journals in Biology Internet Resources

Internet Resources

Below is a small sample of open-access websites offering biology information including articles & books, news, image archives, reference, research organizations, and more websites.

  • Agripedia.
    An instructional resource by the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Includes a glossary of agricultural terms as well as an annotated list of Internet sites.

  • BiologyBrowser.
    Free web site by BIOSIS includes the Nomenclature Glossary for Zoology and the Zoological Record Thesaurus. Also includes links to current science news stories and relevant web sites.

  • BIOME: The Hub for Internet Resources in the Health & Life Sciences.
    Free resources selected and evaluated by librarians at the University of Nottingham. Database includes information on medicine, nursing, veterinary science, biomedical research, the natural world, and agriculture.

  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL).
    Current research programs focus on cancer, neurobiology, plant genetics, genomics and bioinformatics. Home page links to a variety of resources including a eugenics archive, access to CSHL Press journals (with limited free access), and CSHL Library & Archives. 

  • Evolution Resources from the National Academies.
    Free access to books, position statements, and additional resources on evolution education and research. Produced by the National Academies and other sources.

  • Kimball’s Biology Pages.
    An online version of the textbook “Biology” by retired Harvard professor John W. Kimball. Pages can be searched in a variety of ways. Articles contain hyperlinks to other articles.

  • Martindale’s Bioscience & Biotechnology Center.
    A section of “Martindale’s The Reference Desk” by independent consultant Jim Martindale. Lists of links are divided into the following categories: Journals; Courses, Databases & Videos/Movies; and Laboratory Diagnostics & Protocols.

  • National Agricultural Library Catalog (AGRICOLA). Information hub for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Divided into information centers focusing on specific agricultural subjects including Animal Welfare, Food & Nutrition, and Invasive Species. Users can access articles, reports, bibliographies, and laws & regulations.

  • National Academies’ Subject Hub for Biology.
    Access to biology resources including free books, reports, & journals. Includes links to a searchable database of laboratory animal colonies and an international registry of laboratory codes.

  • National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII).
    Collaborative information gateway to information on US biological resources. Broad topics are: Current Biological Issues, Biological Disciplines, Geographic Perspectives, Teacher Resources, and Data & Information Resources.

  • NATO STARnet Environmental and Biological Sciences Information Node (EBSIN).
    Information pertaining to the defense-related environmental and biological interests of NATO. Topics include Ecosystems & Landscapes, Nature Conservation, and General Biology. Also includes links to academic & government entities, non-profit organizations, and research institutes.

  • World Wide Web Journal of Biology.
    Online peer-reviewed journal providing free access to full-text articles. Articles published from 1995—2003. Also includes links to other biology websites.

Top of PageFinding Books LC Call Numbers Reference Sources
Electronic Databases Journals in Biology Internet Resources
Science Main Page
Resources by Subject
Biology Main Page

Guide created by Cindy Craig, January 2006; Revised by Laura Baas, March 2008

Updated: February 01, 2010     Contact the Health and Life Sciences Librarian

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