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Biology Research Guide

How to do research in biology (and other sciences)

Scientists and students in the health and life sciences must be skilled users of information and able to identify and locate relevant and valid research. The scientific literature continues to grow exponentially, practically doubling every few years, while the challenge of efficient access is compounded by new information technologies, available almost instantaneously that have resulted in more but not necessarily better quality information. This is underscored by the fact that the literature that is most heavily cited by others makes up a surprisingly small percentage of all studies available.

Pressures to keep up with the most recent advances and avoid high stakes or even life-threatening errors lends greater urgency than ever before to effective managment of scholarly information in the sciences - and the willingness of library staff to help you obtain the most precise results possible for your information search.

Over forty years ago the National Academy of Science observed that users of scientific and technical information often work in areas that offer far larger rewards for finding new breakthroughs than for "discovering" the results of others work through careful library research.(Committee on Scientific and Technical Communication [SATCOM] "Scientifc and Technical Communication: A Pressing National Problemand Recommendations for its Solutions." Washington: National Academy of Sciences, 1969).  But with a greater emphasis on evidence-based practice to ensure valid results, we now know that both avoiding duplication as well as new breakthroughs require effective consideration of others' work through information research as well.