How to do research on science & technology? Scientific discoveries throughout history have dramatically shaped the world as people know it today. From the invention of the first telegraph to the Hubble space telescope, countless men and women of every scientific discipline have explored the vast unknown. Such discoveries have resulted in cures for formerly untreatable diseases, broken the human genetic code, and accomplished many other scientific and technological feats in such important disciplines as astronomy, atomic and nuclear physics, biochemistry, biotechnology, botany, cell and molecular biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, engineering, environmental science, forensic science, and many more.
Whether you are a mathematical wizard, the top chemist in your class, or a regular student wanting to do better in your math or science class, you can find substantial material in both print and electronic form on practically any research paper topic. The following sources include literature across a broad range of sciences that is recommended for students of every age.
Selected Subject Headings
Listed below is a sample of a few broad Library of Congress subject headings—made up of one word or more representing concepts under which all library holdings are divided and subdivided by subject—which you can search under and use as subject terms as well when searching online library catalogs for preliminary and/or additional research, such as books, audio and video recordings, and other references, related to your research paper topic. When researching materials on your topic, subject heading searching may be more productive than searching using simple keywords. However, keyword searching when using the right search method (Boolean, etc.) and combination of words can be equally effective in finding materials more closely relevant to the topic of your research paper.
Suggested Topics for Science and Technology Research:
- Natural History
- Science—Social aspects
- Science—Study and teaching
- Science—Vocational Guidance
- Technology—Vocational guidance
- Women in Science
Selected Keyword Search Strategies and Guides
Most online library indexes and abstracts and full-text article databases offer basic and advanced “keyword” searching of virtually every subject. In this case, combine keyword terms that best define your thesis question or topic using the Boolean search method (employing “and” or “or”) to find research most suitable to your research paper topic.
If your topic is “the dangers of cell phone use,” for example, enter “dangers” and “cell phones” with “and” on the same line to locate sources directly compatible with the primary focus of your research paper. To find research on more specific aspects of your topic, alternate with one new keyword at a time with “and” in between (for example, “accidents and cell phones,” “driving and cell phones,” “fatalities and cell phones,” “risks and cell phones,” etc.).
For additional help with keyword searching, navigation or user guides for online indexes and databases by many leading providers—including Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, EBSCO, H.W. Wilson, OCLC, Ovid Technologies, ProQuest, and Thomson Gale—are posted with direct links on library Web sites to guides providing specific instruction to using whichever database you want to search. They provide additional guidance on how to customize and maximize your searching, including advanced searching techniques and grouping of words and phrases using the Boolean search method—of your topic, of bibliographic records, and of full-text articles, and other documents related to the subject of your research paper.
Selected Source and Subject Guides
As part of your preliminary research to find appropriate resources for your research paper, information source and research guides are available at most public and academic libraries and are keyword searchable through your library’s online catalog (to search and locate guides, enter your “subject” followed by these keywords one search at a time: “information sources,” “reference sources,” and “research guide”). Printed guides available for this subject area include
Computer Science and Computing: A Guide to the Literature, by Michael Knee, 168 pages (Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2006)
Guide to Information Sources in Engineering, by Charles R. Lord, 345 pages (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 2000)
Guide to Information Sources in Mathematics and Statistics, by Martha A. Tucker and Nancy D. Anderson, 348 pages (Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2004)
Guide to Information Sources in the Botanical Sciences, 2nd ed., by Elisabeth B. Davis and Diane Schmidt, 275 pages (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1996)
Guide to Information Sources in the Forensic Sciences, by Cynthia Holt, 190 pages (Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2006)
Guide to Information Sources in the Physical Sciences, by David Stern, 227 pages (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 2000)
Guide to Reference and Information Sources in Plant Biology, 3rd ed., by Diane Schmidt et al., 282 pages (Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2006)
Guide to Reference and Information Sources in the Zoological Sciences, by Diane Schmidt, 352 pages (Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2003)
Information Sources in Science and Technology, by C. D. Hurt (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1993)
Science and Technology Information Sourcebook, by H. Robert Malinowsky (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1994)
Scientific and Technical Information Sources, 2nd ed., by Chen Ching-Chen (Harvard, Mass.: MIT Press, 1987)
In addition to these sources of research, most college and university libraries offer online subject guides arranged by subject on the library’s Web page; others also list searchable course-related “LibGuides” by subject. Each guide lists more recommended published and Web sources—including books and references, journal, newspaper and magazines indexes, full-text article databases, Web sites, and even research tutorials—you can access to expand your research on more specific issues and relevant to your research paper.
Selected Books and References
The Facts On File Dictionary of Astronomy, 5th ed., by John Daintith and William Gould, 550 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2006)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Atomic and Nuclear Physics, by Richard Rennie, 256 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2002)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Biochemistry, by John Daintith, 256 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2005)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Biology, 4th ed., edited by Robert Hine, 406 pages (New York: Facts On File, 1999)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, 3rd ed., by Mark L. Steinberg and Sharon D. Cosloy, 240 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2006)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Botany, 2nd ed., edited by Jill Bailey, 256 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2002)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology, by Robert Hine, 256 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2002)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Chemistry, 4th ed., edited by John Daintith, 310 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2005)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Computer Science, 2nd ed., by John Daintith and Edmund Wright, 273 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2006)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Earth Science, 2nd ed., by Jacqueline Smith and Stella Stiegeler, 388 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2006)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Ecology and the Environment by Jill Bailey, 256 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2003)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Environmental Science, 3rd ed., by Bruce C. Wyman and L. Harold Stevenson, 498 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2007)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Evolutionary Biology, by Elizabeth Owen and Eve Daintith, 256 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2003)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Forensic Science, by Suzanne Bell, Ph.D., 278 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2004)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Geology and Geophysics, edited by Dorothy Farris Lapidus, 347 pages (New York: Facts On File, 1987)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Inorganic Chemistry, by John Daintith, 256 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2003)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Marine Science, 3rd ed., by Barbara Charlton, 468 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2007)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Mathematics, 4th ed., edited by John Daintith and Richard Rennie, 262 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2005)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Organic Chemistry by John Daintith, 256 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2003)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Physics, 4th ed., by John Daintith and Richard Rennie, 278 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2005)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Science, 6th ed., by E.B. Uvarov Alan Isaacs, 468 pages (New York: Facts On File, 1986)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Space Technology, rev. ed., by Joseph A. Angelo Jr., 480 pages (New York: Facts On File, 2004)
The Facts On File Dictionary of Weather and Climate, rev. ed., by Jacqueline Smith, 262 pages (New York: Facts On File: 2006)
With more than 20 volumes in print, this critically acclaimed, attractively illustrated series of Facts On File dictionaries is geared toward students in grades 9 and up. Each volume contains basic vocabulary terms and definitions, with information that is concise and to the point.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 7th ed., 2,800 pages (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009)
Written for the layperson, this revised seventh edition provides more than 110,000 definitions in clear, simple language, covering 100 areas of science and technology and accompanied by more than 3,000 illustrations. Included is a helpful pronunciation guide, an index of scientific and technical terms, and appendixes with biographical listings, conversion tables, and more.
Ultimate Visual Dictionary of Science, 448 pages (New York: DK Publishing, 1998)
For students in grade 6 and up, this easily understandable, well-written and beautifully illustrated volume offers informative descriptions of various scientific concepts and phenomena in nine major fields of science, including astronomy, biology, computer science, earth science, electronics, life sciences, mathematics, medicine, and physics.
Encyclopedia of Earth System Science, edited by William A. Nierenberg, 4 vols., 2,825 pages (San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 1992)
Encyclopedia of Human Biology, 3rd ed., edited by Renato Dulbecco, 10 vols., 7,500 pages (San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 2008)
Encyclopedia of Microbiology, 2nd ed., edited by Joshua Lederberg, 4 vols., 3,848 pages (San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 2000)
Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology, 3rd ed., edited by Robert A. Meyers, 18 vols., 15,453 pages (San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 2002)
This series of university- and professional-level encyclopedias covers an amazing amount of information about each discipline with complex technical articles of varying lengths about a variety of subjects. An online version of the Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology, all 18 volumes, is available through the online library database ScienceDirect.
Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia, edited by Bernhard Grzimek, 13 vols., 9,000 pages (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Group, 2002)
Acclaimed by critics as “the best reference work on animals ever published,” this revised and updated version of the original 13-volume set, originally edited by famed zoologist and animal lover Bernhard Grzimek, is a complete reference for researchers and students studying the animal kingdom. Updated with the help of prominent advisors and contributors from the international scientific community, this republished series, for students of every academic level, details animals around the globe, including their food systems, life cycles, predators, ecology, and more.
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology: An International Reference Work in Twenty Volumes Including an Index, 10th ed., 20 vols., 15,600 pages (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007)
This 20-volume reference is intended for those with a science background. It has 7,500 articles written by more than 9,000 contributors, including 25 Nobel Prize winners, covering more than 80 fields of science and technology. An older single-volume concise version of the entire set, the McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (1998), is also available.
Gale Encyclopedia of Science, 4th ed., edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 6 vols., 5,000 pages (Detroit, Mich.: Gale, 2007)
This six-volume reference covers all major all fields of science and technology, including science, engineering, mathematics, medical and health sciences, and technology with alphabetically arranged entries discussing various terms, concepts, and scientific areas. A list of sources accompanies most entries.
Kirk-Othmer Concise Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 5th ed., 2 vols., 2,762 pages (New York: Wiley, 2007)
Also available in a 27-volume set, this abridged edition, helpful to chemists and nonchemists, incorporates more than 1,000 entries, featuring basic and advanced information, including illustrations, tables, and graphs covering the entire field of chemical technology. Some of the subjects include analytical techniques, biotechnology, environmental concerns, patents and licensing, process development and design, regulations, solid-state chemistry, and many more.
Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia, 9th ed., 2 vols., 3,936 pages (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 2002)
Suitable for both students and professionals, this substantially revised two-volume set covers a broad range of scientific disciplines, including engineering, math, and technology. Highlighted by numerous charts and illustrations, this encyclopedia features comprehensive articles on a host of subjects. They include animal science, anatomy, astronomy, atmospheric science, chemistry, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, earth science, energy sources, information science, life science, materials, mathematics, mechanical engineering, medicine, mining, physics, physiology, planetary science, plant science, power technology, space science, structural engineering, and numerous others. In 1999, an electronic edition was released on CD-ROM.
History of Modern Science and Mathematics, edited by Brian S. Baigrie, 4 vols., 1,040 pages (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002)
Recommended for high school level students and above, this highly useful multivolume encyclopedia offers topical coverage on the historical development of 23 scientific disciplines focused more on natural than applied sciences. Organized by topic and by disciplines of science and mathematics, entries cover a variety of related subjects, such as algebra, anthropology, astronomy, paleontology, physics, and trigonometry. Informative sidebars and historical photographs are included, along with an extensive bibliography, subject index, and interdisciplinary time line.
Information Sources in Science and Technology, 3rd ed., by C. D. Hurt, 346 pages (Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1998)
Part of the Libraries Unlimited Library and Information Science Text Series, this fully revised reference lists a selection of more than 1,500 sources—abstracts and indexes, bibliographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and Web sites—in 21 subject areas, organized by subject with titles arranged alphabetically in each section. Major disciplines covered include chemistry, geology, medicine, and others.
Instruments of Science: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by Robert Bud and Deborah Jean Warner, 725 pages (New York: Science Museum, London, and National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, in association with Garland Pub., 1998)
Written by 223 scientists, instrument designers, historians, and Nobel laureates from 15 countries, this encyclopedia features approximately 327 entries describing historically significant instruments used in testing, monitoring, and research science, from “Abacus” to “X-ray machine.” This well-done volume describes many instruments relating to applied and engineering sciences, life sciences, mathematical sciences, natural philosophies, and physics.
Reader’s Guide to the History of Science, edited by Arne Hessenbruch, 934 pages (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000)
Fully covers the history of science and science literature with 600 detailed entries focusing on all aspects, including individuals, institutions and disciplines, themes, and concepts, including Einstein and Galileo, astronomy and mathematics, religion and romantic science, paradigm and fact. A brief bibliography follows each essay, critically discussing the titles listed on each topic.
Science and Technology Desk Reference: Over 1,700 Answers to Frequently-Asked and Difficult-to-Answer Reference Questions in Science and Technology, 2nd Ed., by James E. Bobick, 795 pages (Washington, D.C.: Gale Research, 1996)
This ready reference assembles more than 1,700 commonly asked or difficult reference questions and answers arranged by subject, covering such fields as chemistry, computer science, earth science, health science, mathematics, and space science.
Selected Full-Text Article Databases
Academic Search Elite (Ipswich, Mass.: EBSCO Publishing, EBSCOHost, indexing/abstracting: 1980– , full text: 1990– )
This comprehensive database covers a wide range of academic areas, including biology and health sciences. Coverage includes full text for 2,054 journals, with many dating back to 1980; abstracts and indexing for more than 3,000 scholarly journals (including more than 1,300 peer-reviewed full-text journals); and coverage of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Christian Science Monitor. Some of the science journals featured include Annals of Human Biology (1999– ), Astronomy (1984– ), Bioscience (1992– ), Nature (1997), Scientific American (1995– ), and Weatherwise (1984– ).
Academic Search Premier (Ipswich, Mass.: EBSCO Publishing, EBSCOHost, 1972– )
Academic Search Premier, an upgraded version of Academic Search Elite, is the world’s largest scholarly academic multidisciplinary database, and covers a broad range of disciplines including general academic, business, social sciences, humanities, general sciences, education, and multicultural topics. Offers full-text coverage of more than 3,900 scholarly journals, and indexing and abstracts for more than 7,500 journals.
AccessScience (New York: McGraw-Hill Co. Inc.)
Featuring the entire contents of the printed edition of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, this full-text, current Web database covers more than 8,500 articles, 110,000 definitions, and biographies of 2,000 prominent scientists throughout history, with hyperlinks to other online sources. Also includes the complete text of McGraw-Hill’s Yearbooks of Science and Technology.
ACM Digital Library (New York: Association for Computing Machinery, 1947– )
Subscription database providing online access to more than 69,000 full-text articles in every periodical published by the Association for Computing Machinery, including an archive of articles since the mid-20th century.
Annual Reviews (Palo Alto, Calif.: Annual Reviews, 1932– )
For students conducting science and social science research, Annual Reviews is a useful source. It indexes timely critical reviews written by leading scientists in the biomedical, physical, and social sciences fields. Coverage varies by individual journal title, ranging from 1932 to the 1980s. Indexed articles are available in full text format from the mid-1990s for most journals, including Anthropology, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Biochemistry, Fluid Mechanics, Genetics, Immunology, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Plant Biology and Psychology.
Biological and Agricultural Index Plus (Bronx, N.Y.: H.W. Wilson Co., WilsonWeb; index: 1983– , full text: 1997– )
Biological and Agricultural Index Plus offers convenient online access to the core literature of biology and agriculture with full text articles from peer-reviewed journals. Full-text citations from 1997 to date include links to PDF versions of articles, featuring graphs, charts, diagrams, photos, and illustrations. This Web index cites biology, agriculture, and related science articles published in 359 periodicals, including Advances in Applied Microbiology (1983– ), Behavioral and Neural Biology (1982– ), The Biological Bulletin (1983– ), Biochemistry and Cell Biology (1986– ), and Microbiological Reviews (1983– ). Indexing of articles published between 1916 and 1991 is available in the print version of Agricultural Index and Biological and Agricultural Index.
General Science Full Text (Bronx, N.Y.: H.W. Wilson Co., WilsonWeb/Ovid Technologies, Inc./Thomson DIALOG, indexing: May 1984– , abstracting: March 1993– , full text: January 1995– )
This online edition, available to libraries by subscription and also as Wilson General Sciences Full Text, provides access to citations and abstracts of articles from popular and professional science journals and the New York Times’ science section on biological, environmental, medical and physical sciences, and related subjects. Subjects covered include atmospheric science, earth science, conservation, food and nutrition, genetics, nursing and health, physiology, and zoology.
Ingenta (Cambridge, Mass.: Ingenta, Inc., 1988– )
Contains tables of contents and more than 14 million full-text articles from some 26,000 leading journals, 1988 to the present.
MathSciNet (Providence, R.I.: American Mathematical Society/Thomson DIALOG, 1940– )
This fully searchable database covers mathematical reviews and publications, including more than 1,700 journals and 427,000 original articles, from 1940 to the present. Source is also offered on CD-ROM as MatSci on SilverPlatter.
NewsBank ScienceSource Collection (Naples, Fla.: NewsBank, 1987– )
This comprehensive Web science resource for both novice and experienced users covers life, earth, physical, medical, health, and applied sciences. Besides featuring abstracts from the journal Biology Digest from 1987 to the present, this database also includes computer and physical science abstracts, as well as full-text encyclopedia entries and scientist biographies.
ProQuest Research Library II Edition with Full Text (Ann Arbor, Mich.: ProQuest/UMI, indexing: 1971– , full text: 1986– )
Powerful database that provides abstracts, indexing, and full text of articles from more than 1,600 academic journals, business periodicals, and popular magazines, including 169 periodicals in general sciences and 239 general interest publications. Some of the science journals covered are Ecology, Environmental Science and Technology, New Scientist, and Science. This premier database offers ASCII full-text articles from approximately 600 of the indexed titles.
ScienceDirect (St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Science, 1995– )
ScienceDirect is billed as the world’s largest electronic collection of science, technology, and medical journals—some 2,500 and counting—published by Elsevier Science and more than 10,000 books. This online database contains bibliographic information and more than 9.5 million full-text articles, mostly from 1995 to the present, in the above disciplines. Back files are available for chemistry journals as well.
Discover (New York: Time, Inc.; Disney Magazine Publishing, 1980– , monthly)
Published since 1980, this handsomely illustrated, monthly science newsmagazine covers “the wonders, mysteries and challenges of modern science.” Articles focus on all areas of science, including ancient life, the environment, medicine, and technology, and are written for a general audience. Each issue also contains book reviews, stories of amateur scientists and their experiments, puzzles, and Web links. Articles from current issues, and archives of older articles for members only from 1988 to the present, are accessible online (under “Archives”) at http://discovermagazine.com/.
Natural History (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1900– , 10 times a year)
Published since 1900 by New York’s American Museum of Natural History, this award-winning general interest magazine celebrates Earth’s natural beauty combining authoritative articles and spectacular close-up photography of the wonders of nature. Each issue examines subjects in such fields as biology and natural and earth sciences.
Nature (London: Macmillan Journals Ltd., 1869– , weekly)
First published on November 4, 1869, this international weekly journal of science is intended for professional scientists. In each issue, articles are devoted to rapid changes and advances in all branches of science, including news, research reports, and discussion of important scientific issues. Tables of contents of recent and past issues are available online at http://www.nature.com/nature/index.html.
Science (New York: s.n., 1880–82; Cambridge, Mass: Moses King, 1883– , weekly)
This weekly peer-reviewed publication published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science emphasizes discussion of current research and science policy. Read by scientists and nonscientists alike, each issue contains a mix of original research articles, reports, technical comments, letters, essays on science and society, and reviews of books, film, and multimedia of interest to readers. Current issues and archives of older issue are posted online at http://www.sciencemag.org/.
Science News (Washington, D.C.: Science Service, 1922– , weekly)
Debuting in 1922 as the Science News-Letter edited by Watson Davis, this award-winning illustrated magazine, renamed Science News in 1966, covers “the most important research in all fields of science.” Each issue features articles about important events in science and technology, plus book reviews.
Scientific American (New York: Munn & Co., 1845–1948; Scientific American Inc., 1948–; monthly)
Founded by Rufus Porter in 1845, this general science journal is the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States today. Published monthly in 15 different languages, each issue covers the latest news and events in science and technology across a broad range of fields, including biotechnology, ecology, information technology, molecular engineering, and planetary science, for the general public. A selection of articles from current issues can be read online at http://www.scientificamerican.com/.
Selected Web Sites
The Internet Public Library: Science and Technology (http://www.ipl.org/IPLBrowse/GetSubject?vid=13&tid=7115&parent=0)
Subject collection featuring Web sites on natural and physical sciences and their practical applications, such as agriculture and aquaculture, and science and technology libraries, plus an annotated directory of Internet resources listed in alphabetical order.
Science.gov searches over 55 databases and over 2100 selected websites from 15 federal agencies, offering 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information including research and development results. Science.gov is governed by the interagency Science.gov Alliance Subjects covered include agriculture, applied science and technologies, astronomy and space, biology and nature, computers and communication, earth and ocean sciences, energy and energy conservation, and many more.
Science and Technology Refdesk (http://www.refdesk.com/science.html)
Lists from A to Z a diverse collection of science and technology Web sites featuring loads of facts and information on virtually every discipline or subject.
Virtual Center Science and Technology (http://echo.gmu.edu/sites/categories)
Incorporating material from the WWW Virtual Library for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, founded in 1994, the Virtual Center Science and Technology features a large variety of sites on the history of science, technology, and medicine arranged by category and in alphabetical order.