Resources for Biology Research

Image of a stem under a microscope from the collections at the University of California Santa Barbara

About this guide

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting research on topics related to Biology. Use the tabs above to navigate through the pages of the guide.

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Consult these campus resources for help with writing and editing:
About SBCC’s Writing Center
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Reference Sources

Online Reference Sources

The library subscribes to some online reference sources, including the following general reference books and subject-specific books. When accessing these resources off campus, you’ll be prompted for your pipeline username and password.

  • Credo Reference: Contains the full text of nearly 600 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books covering all major subject areas. Thousands of Topics Pages provide articles from different reference sources, arranged by subject. Includes “gadgets” for finding images, definitions, people, pronunciations, quotations, and measurement conversations, as well as a concept map feature for help identifying keywords and broadening or narrowing a topic. Additional features include videos, maps, and animations.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: Search by Keyword to find resources on your topic, or click on the “Science” tab to search through individual reference sources.
  • Encyclopedia of Human Body Systems: a reference work for human physiology and anatomy.
  • Science Terms Made Easy: A Lexicon of Scientific Words and Their Root Language Origins: a useful guide for common scientific terms.
  • Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Science Technology: a resource covering global warming concepts and issues.
  • A Dictionary of Ecology Over 5,000 entries: Subjects include plant and animal physiology, animal behaviour, evolution, environmental pollution and conservation, climatology and meteorology, geomorphology, and oceanography.

Print Reference Sources

Reference books are a good place to begin your research. These resources are available in the Luria Library Reference section. Ask a librarian for additional help finding reference books on your topic.

  • Encyclopedia of world environmental history — R 363.7003 K92e
  • A science dictionary of the plant world: an illustrated demonstration of terms used in plant biology — R 581.03 C539s
  • A dictionary of useful and everyday plants and their common names — R 581.03 H859d
  • Botanical Latin : history, grammar, syntax, terminology, and vocabulary — R 581.03 S799b
  • A guide to botanical resources of Southern California — R 581.9794 B283g
  • The Jepson manual : higher plants of California — R 581.9794 J54m 1993
  • A dictionary of the flowering plants and ferns — R 582.1303 W734 1973
  • The cacti of the United States and Canada — R 583.47 B474c
  • The encyclopedia of animals : a complete visual guide — R 590.3 C772e
  • Walker’s mammals of the world — R 599 W178m 1999
  • Macmillan illustrated animal encyclopedia — R 591.03 W595m
  • Dirr’s Hardy trees and shrubs : an illustrated encyclopedia — R 635.977 D599h


Search the library catalog for books on your topic. The library’s collection includes both print books and online ebooks. Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results. Search for books on your topic by keyword. String multiple keywords together with the word “and,” as in some of the examples below:

  • climate change and oceans
  • ecology and agriculture
  • bacteria
  • chromosome
  • invertebrates
  • mutation

To find the best articles for this class, use the databases listed in the “Articles” section of this guide.


Articles from periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) often provide current information on a topic.
To find articles on your topic, search through the library’s databases or some of the freely available resources listed below.

Library Databases:

  • Academic Search Premier: a great starting point for research on any topic. Provides abstracts for articles from nearly 13,200 periodicals (journals, magazines, and newspapers) in all subject areas, and full text articles from nearly 8,750 periodicals, including more than 7,550 peer-reviewed journals. Searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,400 journals. Full text PDF content dates back as far as 1887.
  • JSTOR: provides access to the full text of hundreds of scholarly journals from the first volume up until five years ago. Our library subscribes to the Arts and Sciences II and II and Life Sciences collections.
  • MEDLINE: this resource “offers journal citations and abstracts in medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and the health care system, and the pre-clinical sciences.”
  • CINAHL: “an authoritative resource for nursing and allied health professionals, students, educators and researchers.”

Freely Available Resources:

Online scientific journals and articles can also be found through these non-subscription resources:

Use Interlibrary Loan to request articles not available for free.


Below are some recommendations for quality websites in biology:

  • this site offers access to “200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results.”
  • World Wide Science: “a global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals.”

How to Cite

Many biology professors ask that students use APA citation style for research assignments. Check with your professor to confirm which citation style he or she requires.

The Purdue Online Writing Lab provides great guidance for proper APA citation. Use the specific links below to read more about how to cite different types of resources in APA format: