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The Strategic Guide to Quality Information in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Medicine, Physics, and Psychology

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Biology--Core Indexing and Abstracting Publications

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The list of databases below is not intended to be exhaustive. Instead, Strategian aims to list the core publications--those indexes and abstracts covering the Biological Sciences that are the best places to start or continue on to in order to identify the articles, books, or other publications that contain the information that you need.

Please keep in mind that the publications listed below are often available in various paper and electronic formats. If not available to you over the Internet, you will need to check if and how they may be available at the library or libraries you may use. How to do that? See Step 3: Locate of the Information Strategy for details.

If you choose to follow any links to outside Web sites listed below, you will be leaving the Strategian Web site. If you wish to return to this page from the Web page you are sent to, please use the Back option of your browser.

The databases below are listed in a suggested sequence of use--from (1) databases in which you can identify publications containing easier to understand, less technical information to (7) databases covering the topic in greater depth and indexing more research-oriented/scholarly publications:

  1. General Science Index/Abstracts (H.W. Wilson)

    Indexes 260+ popular science magazines and scholarly journals from the United States and Great Britain. As the name implies, this publication covers the sciences broadly without an indepth focus on any particular area.

    It is a good place to begin for virtually any subject area within the sciences--a good source for identifying articles that are easier to understand/less technical though some research-oriented journal articles can also be identified.

    Widely-known magazines and journals indexed here include such titles as American Journal of Physics, BioScience, Discover, JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, New Scientist, Science, Science News, and Scientific American. Available in paper back to 1978; available electronically from 1984-present with abstracts from 1993-present and some full-text coverage from 1994-present (depending upon the version of this publication made available). Updated weekly or monthly depending on the format.


  2. Biological & Agricultural Index (H.W. Wilson)

    Indexes 345+ English-language scholarly journals and popular science magazines that focus--about equally--on the different fields within biology and agriculture.

    Available in paper back to 1916; available electronically from 1983-present. Updated monthly.


  3. OAIster (University of Michigan [USA] Digital Library Production Services)

    Searches and retrieves a wide variety of Open Access (free full text online) publications--journal articles, books, audio files, images, movies, dictionaries, directories, etc.--available from a growing number of institutions/organizations around the world. The institutions/organizations searched include arXiv.org, BioMed Central, Institute of Physics, National Academies Press, PubMed Central, and SciELO.

  4. AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access; United States National Agricultural Library)

    A long-time standard for identifying articles (from some 860+ scholarly journals), book chapters, books, etc. related to all aspects of Agriculture, AGRICOLA can also be a valuable source for identifying publications related to botany, plant studies, environmental studies, and other areas within Biology. The database is divided into two parts--Books, etc. and Articles, etc..

    Includes materials published as far back as the 1400's; updated daily. Only a portion of the records contain abstracts.


  5. HighWire Press (Stanford University)

    Provides the ability to search 360+ scholarly journals made available online by HighWire Press plus the MEDLINE database. Years of coverage vary with the specific journal but it can extend back as far as the late 1940's. 150+ of the HighWire Press-hosted journals provide varying amounts of free full text articles.

    • Entrez (The Life Sciences Search Engine; United States National Library of Medicine)

      Provides the ability to search several medical, biomedical, molecular biology, etc. databases--including MEDLINE/PubMed--at the same time. All the databases are hosted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. These databases index 4,500+ scholarly journals, books, etc. as well as some information that is easier to understand/less technical. Coverage extends back to 1953.

    • MEDLINE/PubMed (United States National Library of Medicine)

      This database, in its electronic form, is freely available over the Internet from many providers--some of whom add their own touches to it. The basic link to MEDLINE from the National Library of Medicine is called PubMed. Available electronically from approximately 1953-present. Most records contain abstracts. Updated daily.

  6. BIOSIS Previews (BIOSIS)

    The ultimate indexing/abstracting database for the biological and biomedical sciences, BIOSIS covers more than 5,000 scholarly journals published worldwide. In addition, the database contains information about publications from conferences and meetings, books and book chapters, other monographs, and review articles. All areas of the Life Sciences are covered including topics in agriculture and medicine.

    BIOSIS is the ultimate database, if needed, after consulting the databases above, or it can be the place to begin for the indepth research needs of teachers/faculty and upper-level students.

    Available in paper (under the titles Biological Abstracts and Biological Abstracts/RRM) back to 1926; available electronically (as BIOSIS Previews) from 1969-present. Most of the records contain abstracts. Updated weekly.


  7. Science Citation Index (Institute for Scientific Information)

    A unique database that allows you to discover who has cited (referred to) a particular article or book since it was originally published. The citing publications are only journal and magazine articles--not books. The Science Citation Index can be particularly useful when conventional searching methods in sources like those above fail to identify other publications related to one or two that you are already familiar with. Covering the sciences broadly and in depth, this database indexes more than 6,000 journals published worldwide.

    Depending on specific needs, teachers/faculty sometimes turn to this database first while students and others may turn to this source, if needed, only after consulting the other relevant indexes/abstracts in a subject area.

    Available in paper and electronically back to 1945; abstracts available from 1991-present; updated weekly.


    • WorldCat (OCLC)

      A huge database comprised of the tens of millions of items covering virtually every subject cataloged by 17,000+ libraries worldwide. The database includes items in basically all formats (books, Web sites, videos, sound recordings, maps, etc.) save individual journal, newspaper, and magazine articles.

      Available electronically; updated daily. Materials in the database include items published anywhere from thousands of years ago to the present.


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Updated 5:00 p.m. CT December 10, 2004
Kevin Engel (kevin@strategian.com)
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