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Biological Sciences Libraries

Helping you find resources

Finding things to help you with your studies, research, and other university work is an essential task. On this page we have put together a variety of materials to help you get answers to your questions depending on how much time you have to develop your knowledge. From a quick downloadable handout to some more in-depth courses, we should have everything covered to help get you started. 


In a bit of a rush and need a few pointers on finding stuff now? These are our top tips:

  • Use iDiscover to find books and articles that are available online or physically on a shelf
  • Install LeanLibrary on your browser to streamline access to resources from wherever you are
  • Tell Google Scholar that you're at Cambridge by going into Settings and then Library Links

We have a helpful handout for you to download with these same top tips for you to take away.



There are many different reasons as to why you need to find literature and other resources to support your work. To help you unpack the 'why' behind what you're looking for to help you figure out the 'how' of finding the most relevant material for you, we've broken down some key ideas in a quick YouTube video for you. Skip ahead to the relevant chapter or watch the whole thing. If you need a transcript, we've got one of those too.


We have lots of ways to find resources to support studying, research, and teaching and we share our tips on how to use those tools more effectively in our dedicated YouTube playlist looking at getting Google to work for youusing iDiscover and browser plugins like LeanLibrary effectively to streamline your searching. 




We offer lots of live and self-guided teaching on getting started with navigating the many resources on offer to you while you're at the University of Cambridge. We have dedicated sessions for undergraduate students and ones for postgraduate students and researchers. Check out which ones best fit what you need right now.


Undergraduate Training

Finding resources to support your studies in Biological Sciences 

In this session we will help you translate recommended readings from your lectures and how to find them, all while showing you the tips and tricks that librarians use to find things, freeing you up to get on with studying and finishing that piece of work quicker! More information can be found on the University Training Booking System (UTBS).

Introduction to literature searching for your dissertation or project

Finding scientific literature for your dissertation or project work during your Part II year can be a new experience for many. To help get you started we have our self-guided online literature searching course that will take you through the fundamentals of planning, carrying out, and evaluating your searching so you can get the best results for your needs. We also offer live introductory sessions so you can ask questions and get help as you start your own searches.

Going further with your literature searching for your dissertation or project

We also run regular literature searching workshops to go through some of the above introductory topics in more detail with live demonstrations of key databases, troubleshooting common issues, and lots of time for questions and discussion so you can get the most out of the session. Great for once you've done some searching and have some things you want to pick our brains about further

Postgraduate Training

Developing your literature review: finding the literature

Starting your literature review can be daunting. How do you know you're finding everything? And how do you know new things won't pop up over the next three years? This session will help you to forumlate an effective search strategy, as well as demystifing Boolean searching, demonstrating how to make databases work for you and tips for keeping up to date with new research.

Developing your literature review: engaging critically and writing productively

Of course, finding the literature is just the first step. Once you've got all the material, how do you know which papers would be best to include in your review? And how do you go about writing a literature review anyway? Our second session will teach you how to critically evaluate potentially useful items with a number of techniques, before sharing tips on how to get started with your writing.


If you haven't quite found what you're looking for with the resources on this page, you can email us to discuss your questions and needs further. We can help you via email, an online chat through Teams or Zoom, or an in-person chat in a convenient location in Cambridge.

You can email the Biological Sciences Libraries Team as a whole at or see if you have a subject librarian in your area on our Librarians page.