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Biology: A Guide to Research

Find research sources with a library search

This page offers ideas for how and where to search for research sources in the Milne Library. Scroll down to find databases full of articles and search tips that are tailored to your subject.

Need help with your research on a specific subject?Woman faces path of confusion

Contact the library's Reference Desk to help find a source, or set up a consultation with a Reference & Instruction Librarian for an hour-long research session. For more information, visit the Get Library Help page

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Library Search Tips

Search Tips for Databases

Databases are searchable online catalogs for research materials like scholarly journals and articles, books, primary source materials (such as letters, maps, datasets, or photographs), and video and audio materials. Milne Library's databases are all listed at A-Z Databases

Use "advanced" search functions in databases

For best results, use Advanced Search options. Try combining a few keywords about the topic, such as the name of a region or country AND a Biology-related term to find scholarly articles. 

Filter your search results

Look for "filter" options in your search results that let you choose specific types of sources. You can filter for a publication date range, for example, if you need a recent article. If you are looking for a certain kind of research material -- like a full-text article, a book, or an audio file -- you can often filter for type, too. Look for a peer-reviewed option if you need to filter for that specific type of scholarly material. 

Databases in Biology

Find a Journal Article

Databases are searchable online catalogs for research materials like scholarly journals and articles, books, and video and audio materials. Milne Library's databases are all listed at A-Z Databases

Specialized subject databases (like those listed below) may contain articles not found in "Search Everything" or general databases.

Find Books & Reference Sources

Search for Library Books

To look for print books in the Milne Library, search the online catalog. Navigate to the library homepage and click on 'Advanced Search.' Then enter your search terms.

  • If you want print volumes, change the search scope to 'Library Catalog', limit to 'Books', enter your search terms and click 'Search'. Once in the results list, click 'Held by Library' to limit to print volumes only.
  • Note down the book's call number to locate it on the shelves.

Browse Books in the Shelves

How do you find biology subjects in the stacks, as we call our library shelves? Academic libraries use the Library of Congress Classification system to organizes our books by subjects. If you know the LCC call numbers for Biology-related topics, you can find that area of the stacks and browse to your heart's content. But where to start? 

Go to Q to browse for Science books:

  • QH – Natural History and Biology
  • QK – Botany
  • QL – Zoology
  • QM – Human Anatomy
  • QP – Physiology
  • QR – Microbiology

Other locations to browse:

  • GC – Oceanography
  • R – Medicine and History of medicine
  • RA – Public aspects of medicine, Including medical statistics
  • RB – Pathology
  • RC – Practice of medicine
  • RD – Surgery
  • RM – Therapeutics / Pharmacology
  • RS – Pharmacy
  • S – Agriculture and Conservation of natural resources              
  • SB – Plant culture
  • TC – Hydraulic engineering

Reference Books 

Reference sources--like encyclopedias and dictionaries--provide an overview or summary of your topic and are ideal to be used when starting research. Print reference resources are currently located on in Milne Library on the 1st floor and in the sub-basement.

Find eBooks

Open Access Online Books

There are many open access book collections available freely on the internet. Here are a few great collections:

Milne Library eBook Collections

There are two ways to find eBooks from the library's collections. One method is to search in the Milne Library catalog. Navigate to the library homepage and click on 'Advanced Search.' Then enter your search terms.

  • If you wish to find online books, limit the search scope to 'Online Access' and change the 'Material Type' to 'Books'.

The second method is to search each Milne Library's eBook databases (in case something in a database is not showing up in our catalog). All eBook databases are available in the A-Z Database list, and here are some best bets:

Can't access it? Try Interlibrary Loan (ILL)

InterLibrary Loan (ILL) Service

The ILLiad system enables current SUNY Oneonta students, faculty, and staff to obtain academic and intellectual materials from other libraries. Your ILLiad account will allow you to:

  • borrow items or request periodical items from other libraries,
  • review the status of ILL requests, and
  • check due dates or renew outstanding ILL loans.