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Biology -- The First Year: Reference Sources

A research guide to help Summer Session Students with their infectious disease project.

About Reference Sources

Reference Books (Encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases, etc...) offer great overviews of subjects.  Usually, they are easier to read and understand and present scientific topics that are 'older'. For science topics it is best to use current reference sources and supplement any research with journal, magazine, and news searches. 

Search Tips


  • Find and get to know alternative names to your disease, syndrome, or topic.
  • Always spell your topic correctly.
  • Color vs. Colour, don't forget alternate spellings.
  • Are there any acronyms or synonyms for the disease?
  • What are the subject headings found in the papers located?
  • Are there special terms used by others to communicate about your topic?

Electronic Reference Sources

The items listed below are not websites.  They are the electronic versions of many of the Reference Sources listed above. They are availabe 24/7.

Reference Universe

When discovering a topic for the first time, searching reference sources such as atlases, encyclopedias, handbooks, and others can be time consuming. Reference Universe is a database that searches many reference sources in the Garver room AND those sources that might be thought of as reference sources that have been shelved in the general collection. Remember that searching an index entry or article entry in Reference Universe will require very broad search terms, or very narrow terms. It is not unusual for a search to retrieve zero results. 

A Current Scientist's Work

Subject Guide