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Online Reference Sources

Initial Exploration

Initial Exploration
  • Encyclopedias that focus on biology including the online/print reference sets listed on this page.
  • Current awareness publications, including: 
  1. Annual Reviews: Allow you to see the types of research that have been done on a subject within a given time frame. Oxy has access to numerous Annual Review titles that are relevant to biology including the Annual Review & Research in Biology, the Annual Review of Biochemistry, the Annual Review of Biomedical Sciences, and many others. From the Annual Review list you are taken to, look for the Annual Review title that is the most applicable to your topic.
  2. Current Opinion publications: Provides current research and opinion on the topic. Ones particularly relevant to biology include Current Opinion in Cell Biology, Current Opinion in Chemical Biology and Current Opinion in Microbiology.
  3. Trends In publications: Ones of particular interest to biology students include Trends in biochemical sciences and Trends in Cell Biology.
  4. Nature Reviews: Ones of particular interest to biology students include Nature Reviews - Microbiology and Nature Reviews - Molecular cell biology.

Beginning your Research on a Biology Topic

Beginning your Biology Research

  • Follow your interest AND pay particular attention to the assignment you have been given. Make sure you understand what your Professor is asking for before diving into your research. Be sure to note any date or material type restrictions. (Example: Using peer reviewed journals, locate articles from the past three years that explore . . . )
  • Note some topics that interest you and then brainstorm ways these concepts could be worded. Is there a common term for a concept as well as a medical/scientific term? (The MeSH thesaurus can help you find medical terminology.)
  • Using the tools for initial exploration listed below, try to locate a few resources that address your topic. Once you have looked at a source, ask yourself the following:
    • Does this resource provide you with any new terms or concepts that should be incorporated into your research?
    • How does this resource address your subject and when was this published? Is there anything newer on the same issue?
    • What do you want to know more about after having read this? For example, does this resource problematize issues that seemed settled before? Or does it raise new areas and avenues of exploration entirely?
    • How does this resource fit with what you know about this topic? How does it add to the pool of material you have already examined?
  • Look for ways you can situate your research within the broader range of scholarship that exists on your topic. Can you expand upon an earlier discussion? Or provide a counterpoint?
  • Realize that the scope and focus of your topic will change the more information you locate, read, and analyze. Your preliminary research should help you figure out which aspects of your broader topic you are truly interested in focusing on; in later research, you can hone in on this narrow topic.