Biology Research Guide

The purpose of the research guide is to introduce you to the process of literature search and familiarize you with a variety of sources available for you.

Prof. Inna Shpilko

BiologyBibliographer for Biology

Imagine that your professor asked you to write a paper based on your search of published literature. He/she asked you to consult different information sources including journal/magazine/newspaper articles, books, government documents, as well as Internet resources.

First, select a topic that is of interest to you. If in doubt, talk to your instructor regarding a chosen topic. You might want to seek help from reference librarians who are knowledgeable about search strategies necessary for locating needed information.


As an initial step of your research, gather background information of your topic in general and/or specialized encyclopedias or dictionaries. These reference sources provide useful overviews of a topic and may include in their bibliographies resources you can further use in your paper. Then, search the CUNY online catalog or other catalogs to locate relevant books.

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Find Books

The CUNY Catalog
Search for books and other materials at the Queens College Libraries, as well as other CUNY libraries.
Other Library Catalogs
Search the library catalogs of regional libraries such as the Queens Library, Brooklyn Public Library, New York University, Columbia University, etc.
WorldCat (OCLC Catalog)
Search for books in the national catalog for the United States and Canada. This database includes holdings from libraries in other parts of the world, primarily European or English-speaking.



Search online databases or periodical indexes to identify journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles you want to read. You can find bibliographic citations to books, book chapters, as well as full text of some documents. Sometimes, searching one database is not enough. Search multiple databases to obtain the most comprehensive information. Most of the databases listed below are available for Queens College faculty and students through the library subscriptions and could be found on the QC Libraries Home page.

Academic Search Complete
ASC is a comprehensive source for scholarly journals in all academic disciplines. More than 8,000 publications are indexed, and full text is provided for 4500. Most are peer-reviewed. Searchable cited reference sources are provided for selected titles.
BioOne contains 69 peer-reviewed bioscience journals, mainly in the fields of ecology, botany, and zoology. Founding organizations include the American Institute of Biological Sciences, Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, University of Kansas, Greater Western Library Alliance, and Allen Press Inc. Most of BioOne's current journals and back files are not available from other aggregators.
Birds of North America
Full-text essays providing life histories for all species of birds breeding in the United States and Canada.
General Science Full Text
General Science Full Text is the first place to look for answers to science-related questions. This database features full text, plus the graphs, charts, diagrams, photos, and illustrations that convey an abundance of scientific information. Note: Alternative access is available at WilsonWeb.
Access to 500+ core journals in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Cover-to-cover full-text from a journal's first issue until about five years ago.
Citations from Index Medicus, International Nursing Index, Index to Dental Literature, HISTLINE, SPACELINE, PREMEDLINE, AIDSLINE, BIOETHICSLINE, HealthSTAR, covering medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, health.
Free access to biomedical information. Citations from Index Medicus, International Nursing Index, Index to Dental Literature, HISTLINE, SPACELINE, PREMEDLINE, AIDSLINE, BIOETHICSLINE, HealthSTAR, covering medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, health.
Science Direct (Elsevier)
Articles from over 900 journals in science, technology, and medicine.
Science Citation Index Expanded/Web of Science
Access to current and retrospective bibliographic information, author abstracts, and cited references from the leading scholarly science and technical journals in more than 150 disciplines.
Provides access to research literature in chemistry and chemical engineering through Chemical Abstract's CAPLUS, CASREACT, and REGISTRY databases, and MEDLINE biomedical database. First-time users must set up an account here by using a QC computer workstation on campus. SciFinder should be accessed using Firefox or IE7. Users of IE8 need to activate “Compatibility View” with these instructions.
Biomedical and Life Sciences, Medicine, Physics, etc.
Web of Knowledge
Common platform menu listing numerous Thomson Reuters (formerly ISI) databases: Derwent Innovations Index, Index to Organism Names, Journal Citation Reports, Medline, Web of Science. Subjects: Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Engineering, Environmental Studies & Sciences, Geology, Health & Medicine, Physics, Technology.
Web of Science
Common platform menu listing Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index, and Sciences Citation Index Expanded, Conference Proceedings Citation Index: Science, Conference Proceedings Citation Index: Social Science & Humanities. Subjects: Multidisciplinary.
Wiley Interscience
Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics, and Psychology.



Most of the journals are available in electronic format (e-journals). Search journal packages listed below for specific journal titles. Use Find E-Journals database on the QC Libraries Home page to find more online journals available through the Library.

Annual Reviews
Provides definitive critical reviews of the scientific and social scientific research literature of 34 disciplines: Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics; Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics; Annual Review of Genetics; Annual Review of Microbiology.
Cell Press Journals
Publishes ten reputable peer-reviewed journals in molecular biology. Full text access is available for the following journals: Cell, Chemistry and Biology, Current Biology, Immunity, Molecular Cell, Neuron, and Structure.
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
The DOAJ site was created in an effort to list all the existing open access (free full text) journals. All subject areas are covered. Subjects of interest: Biology and Life Sciences; Agriculture; Animal Sciences; Aquaculture and Fisheries; Forestry; Nutrition and Food Sciences; Plant Sciences.
Includes Nature, the multidisciplinary weekly journal of science, as well as Nature research journals and Nature Reviews journals, including: Nature Biotechnology, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Genetics, Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Reviews Cancer, Nature Reviews Genetics, Nature Reviews Immunology, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.
Public Library of Science (PLoS)
PLoS is a collection of peer-reviewed, open access journals that include original research in all areas of science and medicine. List of journals include: PLoS Biology; PLoS Medicine; PLoS Computational Biology; PLoS Genetics; PLoS Pathogens; PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases and PLoS ONE.
Science Online
Premier scholarly journal publishing original scientific research articles in all fields of science. Also includes sections for book reviews, editorials, job postings, news, and training.


Internet Resources

In addition, you might consider searching the Internet/World Wide Web to locate valuable information in your field of study published by the federal government or government agencies, professional societies, academic institutions or research centers. Always evaluate the quality of information you identify and retrieve.

Government Resources

Associations, Societies & Organizations

Universities & Colleges

Audubon's Birds of America at the University of Pittsburgh (University of Pittsburgh)
This database depicts 497 species. It is a product of Audubon's observations over more than 14 years.
Biology @ CCNY Library (City College, CUNY; Prof. Claudia Lascar)
Biology Research Guide created at the City College, City University of New York (CUNY).
BioEd Online: Biology Teacher Resources (The Center for Collaborative and Interactive Technologies, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston)
This source is intended for science teacher educators, K-16 teachers and student teachers.
HealthLinks/Molecular Biologist (University of Washington)
Learn.Genetics (University of Utah/Genetic Science Learning Center)
Genetics Education Center (University of Kansas Medical Center)
Aimed at educators interested in human genetics and the human genome project.