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Research Help

Biology: Getting Started

Start your biology research here.

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Journal Articles

This list of resources serves as a starting point. Please ask a librarian for help in using these tools, developing a search strategy, or in locating additional information.  Hint: the Discover SMU search box is a good place to start, as it will automatically select and guide you toward the following resources according to the terms you enter.  For a complete listing of SMU online resources for biology, visit the CUL online resources page for that subject. 

Academic Search Complete      SMU Only

An excellent source for journal articles on almost any topic. Especially useful for undergraduates. Provides full text for about 4700 journals online. Coverage: 1975 to present.  Available via EBSCOhost.   Tutorial



Over 2.5 million citations to journal articles, books, theses, patents, software, audio-visual materials, and technical reports covering all aspects of agriculture and allied disciplines including plant and animal sciences, forestry, entomology, soil and water resources, agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, agricultural products, alternative farming practices, and food and nutrition. Coverage dates back to 1970.  


Health Reference Center Academic    SMU Only

This is a good place to begin a study of human diseases.  Includes overviews and definitions, as well as relationships to other diseases, standard treatments, and much more.


GreenFILE    SMU Only

Offers scholarly, government and general-interest information on all aspects of human/environment interaction.  


ScienceDirect        SMU Only

The ScienceDirect Freedom Collection from Elsevier provides full-text content for over 2,000 journals, including approximately 25% of the peer-reviewed scientific, technical & medical content currently being published throughout the world. Personalization options allow users to save, re-run, edit and combine searches, as well as set up alerts and RSS feeds for articles relevant to their research, and to tables of content of new journal issues of their choice.  Tutorial


SciFinder     Registered Users Only

You will need to register to use this comprehensive source for chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, nanotechnology, physics, environmental science and other science and engineering disciplines. Registered users go directly to this link.  SciFinder includes journal articles, book chapters, patents, conference proceedings, technical reports, substance database and dissertations covered in Chemical Abstracts as well as articles currently being indexed, book reviews and biographical information. Covers 1907 to present.   Tutorials


Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge/Science     SMU Only

1996- present. The most comprehensive journal article database for the sciences. Provides links to cited authors. Also includes the National Library of Medicines index to medical literature (Medline) and the USDA’s index to agricultural literature (Agricola). SMU also has earlier volumes in print or CD dating back to 1945.  Tutorial 


Here is the link to SMU Online Resources.  Note that some of these are designated as SMU only; others are available free of charge.

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Crediting Your Sources

A research paper is a kind of conversation. You are engaging others in a dialogue that's taking place in their absence.  So, to recognize others' contributions to the discussion and to allow anyone reading your paper to join in this exchange of ideas, you need to acknowledge where you found their thoughts.

Moreover, when you take ideas and pass them off as your own, it's theft; you are stealing their intellectual property, in other words, plagiarizing. This is one of the worst crimes that you can commit in an academic community and it violates the University Honor Code, which,  upon entering SMU, you have already signed a pledge to uphold.

Many of our databases will generate a citation for you.  Ask a librarian (call, chat, email) if you would like to learn if the database you're using can do this. There are also FLC Reference books which willl help you cite information correctly.

Web Sites

This brief list of resources should be used only as a starting point. Please ask a librarian for help in using these tools, developing a search strategy, or in locating additional information.



PubMed comprises more than 19 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.   PubMed Central is a free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature developed and managed by National Institute of Health's National Center for Biotechnology Information in the National Library of Medicine. Although the articles in PubMed Central are available for free, most are still subject to copyright for purposes of downloading in bulk and distribution.  PubMed Tutorial

Encyclopedia of Life 

This digitally-harvested and user-constructed site seeks to catalog of all the world's species--the 1.9 million already known and the millions yet unnamed--and to provide links to photos and other online resources, many of which are freely available.  The list of Cornerstone institutions includes the Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, and the Smithsonian Institution.  Be the first to identify, catalog, and register a new species!    Access the project's digital component--known as the Biodiversity Heritage Library--here. 

This interagency initiative of 18 U.S. government science organizations within 14 Federal Agencies provides a gateway to government science and research results.  Users can search over 42 scientific databases and 200 million pages of science information with a single query.  For images, select the Image Search link under Special Collections.

BioEd Online

Resources from Baylor College of Medicine for biology teachers.  Includes streaming video, Powerpoint lessons you can download and modify, complete courses, lesson plans, Texas teaching certification requirements, and much more.