Biological Sciences Scholars

Resources for the Biological Science Honors Students

Decisions about databases and searching...

How can I:

- What resources are helpful when finding a book? How to find a good book on a topic, when there are many options and it is hard to know which to use?

- search for peer-reviewed/scholarly/academic material?

- choose between different sources/databases? 

- efficiently sort through results?

- navigate the different databases?

- find the best results?

- find what resources are even available?

The first answer: The main Biology Guides! There are four main biology guides that list the most useful resources. Its categories can help you choose between different databases, making you more efficient and yielding better results. 

The second answer: develop a search strategy to meet your needs. Use the filters and terms to limit your searches. Keep track of your searches and use a management system for your results (like Zotero) prevents duplication of work! 

Specific Questions

What type of information/how many books does OSU Libraries have?  We have over 6.1 million volumes and subscriptions to thousands of journals, as well as over a quarter of a million items in our special collections. We also provide access to almost all of the items at academic institutions in Ohio and the Big Ten schools. In short, if you have a curiosity, we probably have information about it - just ask! We can help you navigate this very large system and let you know about additional support programs too!!

What is the oldest book at Thompson? "Our Rare Books and Manuscript Department has a set of about a dozen Babylonian cuneiform tablets dating to ca. 2750 BCE. These aren’t literary texts; rather, they're individual inventory/account documents typically recording inventories of goods intended for temple sacrifices. But if you are talking about something that looks more like a "traditional" book, then our oldest materials would be a handful of bound medieval manuscript codices, all dating to the period of ca. 1230-1250. We have two complete illuminated Bibles, one made ca. 1230 in Picardy, and another ca. 1235 from Oxford. We also have another nifty volume that would have been intended for use by a teacher or advanced student at the University of Paris, likely made ca. 1250. As far as medieval manuscripts go, we do have a handful of earlier things in our fragment collection, the oldest dating to ca. 1050." ~ Eric Johnson, Head of Rare Books and Manuscripts

How are the books organized? Since we are a large library, we use the Library of Congress system to organize our books. However, because they cannot all be kept in the same place, it's usually best to rely on our on-line searching to find books.

Which libraries don't have study rooms/have 'hidden' places to study? Almost all of our publicly-accessible libraries have some sort of study rooms, but the number and the rules differ by location. It's easiest to check our study room page to see the variety that are available. 

I would love to know more about technological support. OSU IT provides most of our technical support for campus, and the three handiest services are: Buckeye Bar in Thompson Library (across from the Berry Cafe, open Monday - Friday: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.), TechHub, and the software is available for installing on your computer. 

What use I could gain from the libraries? We teach a 2-credit class on the libraries, and invariably a students who just need a couple of credits to graduate take it and tell us they wish they had taken it sooner. We do too! Using the library makes your life easier, saves you money, and results in better grades. While correlation between library use and GPA is not necessarily causation, it does seem to be a consistent trend across studies: 

- Kabo, Felichism, Nicholas Paulson, Doreen Bradley, Kenneth J. Varnum, and Stephanie Teasley. 2021. “Associations between Library Usage and Undergraduate Student GPA, 2016-2019,” March.

- Scoulas, Jung Mi, and Sandra L. De Groote. 2022. “Impact of Undergraduate Students’ Library Use on Their Learning beyond GPA: Mixed-Methods Approach | Scoulas | College & Research Libraries,” May.

I have a heard time finding sources on the library about specific topics/what are the best/easiest ways of finding/searching for information? This can be really challenging. I recommend starting with the subject guide, and thinking about whether you are interested in books (typically older information, but easier to read and more comprehensive) or articles (more cutting-edge information, but also more technical and specific). Then do some exploring and if you are not finding what you need, try synonyms and remember this rule of thumb: if you are getting too many results, use more words, if you are getting too few results, use fewer and simpler words. Once you find a good book or article, look who they cited and who cited them - build on their searches to find more information on your topic!

How do I check a book out/can I borrow a book and/or get it delivered? How to properly checkout books because I never really know and am afraid to look silly and ask! :D For access to print information, you can search our catalog here: Alternatively, you can search the OHIOLink catalog and get the item shipped to an OSU library ( Bear in mind that only about a million of our print volumes are on-campus, as we store most of our materials at remote locations. You just click on the 'request an item' link and then send it to whichever location you select for pick-up!

Do we have access to ebooks (not just textbooks, but also fictional/fun books) through the OSU libraries? How to check out normal, casual-read books?  Yes! Did you know you can get a Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) card with your BuckID at Thompson Library and get those books sent there too? You may even be able to apply on-line and get a card mailed to you (! After getting your CML card, you can download their app, called CML Mobile, browse their catalog, request items and select "CML OSU Thompson" for delivery. Also, you can download the app Libby, enter your CML credentials, and get eBooks and audiobooks. The due dates will be determined by which library it was borrowed from, typically 2-3 weeks. Happy reading!

I am curious to figure out how my 4 year schedule plan will look. Planning ahead really helps you meet your goals, and your academic advisors are invaluable resources to help you chart your path!

How often are counselors available? This depends on what type of counseling service you are looking for; there are all different types of counseling services available for free and confidential at OSU! Services range from individual therapy, group therapy, education/consultation, on-campus referrals, and off-campus referrals within the community. Reach out to day to find out how these services can help you!

I'm curious about (past years edition)...

What to do if we want to use a book in a different language? You can use our classic library catalog search to find books in different languages. Start here: and use the filters to select the language you want! If you want to see all our books in a given language, you can put an asterisk in the search box, select the language you want and hit 'submit'. 

How to find out which library has the information you need? Because almost all our material is either stored off-site or is on-line, and you can get any regular library item shipped to any of our locations, it's more important to be able to navigate the libraries digitally than physically. I recommend starting at the homepage and select either the 'books' or the 'articles' tab to start exploring our materials.

I am curious how the library keeps track of all books returned and if there is an all time list of who has had each book. Most of the libraries in Ohio all use the same professional library management system to track all of the books (and other materials) because this lets us lend each other items easily. However, most libraries delete circulation records as soon as the items are returned, so there is no list of who has checked out any given item. This is because the Patriot Act of 2001 allows the federal government to monitor information activities of libraries, and this threatens the library principles of information privacy and intellectual freedom. More on this topic can be found here: Therefor, most libraries only keep the records necessary to run the library, and delete individual records on a timely basis. However, please be aware that publishers often keep individual records, particularly if you provide them with your email. 

What events are at the library? Most events are captured here:

Best way to keep my life organized. I may not be able to help organize your whole life, but I can tell you how to organize your academic information! Zotero is a great place to organize the websites, eBooks, and articles you use, and a good file naming convention can go a long way to organizing the rest of your digital files. For more on organizing your electronic records, check out these tips! Also, check out the 'Life Organization' box in this guide for books on the topic.

I’m curious about finding free one-on-one tutoring/What other resources are on campus to help with studying?​ Check out the Younkin Success Center - they offer some tutoring, and will know of further resources! Also check out the resources under the 'Tips, Tricks, and Help' tab. 

Are there resources available to OSU students that we may not know about? There are so many resources at OSU it's hard for any one person to know about them all! We try to keep most resources and programs on our webpages, but navigation can be difficult. I recommend both browsing, and if you have a specific need, do a domain search (i.e. search term followed by in google) or reach out to our chat service. It never hurts to ask!

What resources are there for evaluating whether or not a source is credible or valid? I've provided some resources in this guide, but always reach out if you are unsure. There is big money in fake science, so it can look really legit but still be misinformation! You can always contact your friendly librarian!

How to get paid for lab work either for credit or for tuition grants/scholarships. I am curious about more research opportunities that OSU has to offer and what events I can attend to broaden my interest in the field of science. What resources are available to me in terms of finding job, internship, and/or research positions on campus and in Columbus? Both the job pages ( and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Enquiry ( are good sources, as well as searching for individual grants and financial aid. 

What free e- Books/magazines/newspapers are available to students? The OSU Libraries offers a number of free resources, such as subscriptions to the Columbus Dispatch and the New York Times. There are also items available via the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) system. Any OSU student can get a CML card. 

What resources the library has that are specific to students pursuing science, engineering, medicine, etc.? We have specific science subject librarians ( and databases devoted to specific areas of science (! There is a whole library (with librarians) devoted solely to the health sciences as well ( 

What is the emptiest spot to study on campus? I'm not sure about on campus, but definitely in the libraries it's either the Veterinary Medicine Library or the Architecture Library. They are both small and a bit harder to find, so tend to be low use!

Resources on research paper structure and formatting? The Writing Center has one-on-one consultations and resources ( 

Organize and cite your information

Some want to know:

- how to keep your bookmarked or downloaded articles together and make citing easier?

I don't recommend storing searches in databases, as database composition tends to change quite a bit, and you have to create a separate personal account in each one. Instead, I recommend using a citation management software, like Zotero, that allows you to easily save your articles and webpages in one place, as well as create a reference list from them. It's also easy to de-duplicate when you collect the same article from different databases, making it easier to sift through results. However, I do encourage keeping track of your searches with a table or spreadsheet. This prevents you from searching the same database over and over again with the same terms.