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These pages are no longer updated.
Please use our new Research Guides at

Be sure to update any links or bookmarks to point to the new guides.

For subject assistance contact: Nick Lonergan, 717-245-1838.


Research Help

The Library of Congress Classification System, which is the call number system utilized for locating and organizing library resources, breaks Biology down into primarily these areas:

  • Q is General Science
  • QH is specifically Natural History - Biology - Science
  • QH 501-531 is Life - Natural History - Biology - Science

Look at the Library of Congress Classification System Outline for more information.

Related Biology Subfields

More Research Help

Reference Resources

Reference Resources include Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Atlases, Thesaurus, and more...

How to search the library catalog:

Search the library catalog to find books (both print and ebooks), movies, and other media.

  • Combine terminologies: Biology and dictionary
  • Use general language: Forestry and encyclopedia
  • Limit the location to reference by clicking on "Specialized Searches" then "Reference Books."

Examples of reference resources we own:

Finding Journals

Locating articles

Basic process for finding articles

If you find an article that looks interesting check to see if there is a link to the pdf or HTMl version of the article by the citation. If not, then click the "Get It!" button to see if we have access to it either electronically or in print.

If you cannot see either a direct link to the article or the "Get It!" button then search the Journal Locator for the title of the journal that it was published in. If you find the journal title here check to see if we have access to the year in which the journal article was published, and then follow the relevant link.

Requesting articles we do not own

If we have neither print nor electronic access to an article in our collection, then you can place an order for it through ILLIAD.

You will have to set up account the first time you order an article but once you have done this once you can use this same account each time you want an article.

Once you have an account set up then you can just click the "ILLIAD" link in the "Get it!" button and log into your account and the request form will be automatically populated with the citation information for your desired article so you only need to submit the request.

(If you do not have a journal citation, but instead have a topic, use one of our databases to locate citations).

Why use journals?

• Journals are often peer-reviewed/scholarly. This means the research in the articles have been double-checked for validity.

Primary research often appears in journal articles. Primary research is the first article or report on a topic whereas secondary research are the articles or reports that talk about that primary article. Always look back to the primary article when using secondary sources as support.

• Journals can contain the most recent information on a topic. In the sciences this can be very important.

Finding Journal Articles

If you already have a journal citation, complete with journal title, see Finding Journals.

If you have a topic and need to locate journal articles:

• Pick a database from our Database List page, or use one listed below.

Biology Databases

  • Biological Abstracts: Indexes articles from more than 3,700 journals that focus on life science topics. Archival records are available from 1926.
  • Biological & Agricultural Index: Articles and other scholarly material published in the leading publications in agriculture, biology, forestry, and ecology. Includes a wide range of popular and professional journals about biology and agriculture.
  • BioOne: BioOne provides access to resources of interrelated journals focused on the biological, ecological and environmental sciences. Most of BioOne's titles are published by small societies and non-commercial publishers.
  • AGRICOLA: An electronic index to over 3 million citations to materials acquired by the National Agricultural Library and cooperating institutions.
  • Annual Reviews: Publishes 29 series covering three major fields: Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences as well as a number of special publications and Web based projects every year. These purpose of these publications are to record the major innovations and progress of research topics occurring in these disciplines.
  • PubMed: Includes over 15 million citations for biomedical articles back to the 1950's. These citations are from MEDLINE and additional life science journals.
  • Wildlife & Ecology Studies Worldwide: Literature on wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Offers a global perspective and is the most comprehensive resource on wildlife information. Major topic areas include studies of individual species, habitat types, hunting, economics, wildlife behavior, management techniques, diseases, ecotourism, zoology, taxonomy and much more.

General Science Databases

  • General Science Full Text
    A general science database that covers everything from supernovas to marine pollution. A good starting point for researchers seeking information on a variety of scientific topics.
  • Scientific Electronic Library Online (scielo)
    scielo provides cooperative electronic publishing of science, social sciences, and arts & humanities journals to meet the scholarly communication needs of developing countries, particularly Latin America and the Caribbean countries. It provides an efficient way to assure universal visibility and accessibility to their scholarly literature.
  • ScienceDirect A large electronic collection of science, technology and medicine information. NOTE
    ScienceDirect identifies full-text articles with a green icon. To determine if Dickinson has access to non full-text articles, or to request an article via interlibrary loan, click on the article title and then expand the "Bibliographic Information" box in the right-hand column, then click on the "Get It!" link

(Limited to 2 users at once) First time user registration is required. Contact the Sciences Liaison Librarian for information on how to register. The world's largest collection of organic and inorganic substance information with references from more than 10,000 currently published journals and patents from more than 61 patent authorities. Includes important scientific discoveries from the mid-1800s to the present. Allows searching on more than 56 million organic and inorganic substances by chemical structures, biological sequences, substructures or reactions.

  • Web of Science
    Provides cited references to social science and science materials. Provides access to Science Citation Index Expanded and Social Science Citation Index Expanded from 1965 - present.
  • Web of knowledge
    Simultaneously search web of Science (Science Citation Index, Social Sciences Citation Index), Biological Abstracts and MEDLINE.

Internet Resources

There are thousands of places to locate biological information on the Internet, but be very cautious when using the Internet for your research.

Always evaluate the site for authority, bias and currency. Here is more information on evaluating resources. Or look through some biological listserv discussions here.


    The comprehensive enzyme information system.
  • Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body
    The edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body features 1,247 vibrant engravings many in color from the classic 1918 publication, as well as a subject index with 13,000 entries ranging from the Antrum of Highmore to the Zonule of Zinn.
  • WildFinder
    From the World Wildlife Organization. A map-driven, searchable database of more than 26,000 species worldwide, with a search tool that allows users to see where species live or explore different locations to find out what species live there.


  • Animal Diversity Web
    Online database and encyclopedia of animal natural history from the University of Michigan.



  • GenBank
    the NIH genetic sequence database containing all publicly available DNA sequences.
    A DNA sequence search and similarity tool that can be used to infer functional and evolutionary relationships between sequences.


  • uBio
    A collaborative project within the science library community to create a comprehensive catalog of names for all living and extinct organisms.
  • Tree of Life web project
    Provides information about biodiversity, the characteristics of different groups of organisms, and their evolutionary history.

Science News:

  • New Scientist
    Science and technology news for a general audience.
    Science news related to biotechnology, careers, Earth & environment, medical research, more.
  • EurekAlert!
    An electronic index of research advances in science, medicine, health and technology as published in news briefs and in the science media, including peer-reviewed scientific journals.