Below are listed examples of different types of literature which may be useful in your career as scientists in the biochemical field. The list is not exhaustive.
- Stuart James, Using Literature, Analytical Chemistry by Open Learning. Self taught course on using literature for analytical chemistry. The approach and some reference materials are applicable to biochemical problems. Written in England so some reference materials are European and may be hard to find.
- Walford, A. J. ed.,Walford's guide to reference material, Vol.1, Science and technology, 4th ed., London: Library Association, 1980 (697pp.). Contains information on what reference books exist.
- American Reference Book Annual (ARBA) may be helpful.
Types of Literature
- Published standards
- BSI- British Standards Institute
- Annual Book of ASTM standards-(American Society for Testing and Materials). Lists publications for analysis and standards for everything. Chemistry, engineering, metallurgy, foods, etc.
- British Pharmacopoeia- descriptions and methods of analysis for pharmacological compounds
- Reference Works
- Handbook of Analytical Chemistry
- Handbook of Biochemistry
- Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
- Van Nostrand- Scientific Encyclopedia 6th ed. - quick reference
- McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology- quick reference
- Biochemical references
- Merck Index - chemical compounds, cross reference of trade names, references
- Merck Manual - descriptions of medical conditions, terms, treatments
- CRC Handbook of Biochemistry
- CRC Handbook of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- Enzyme Handbook
- Methods in Enzymology - (use subject index) Good description of methods and techniques.
- Methods in Enzymatic Analysis - H.U. Bergmeyer- excellent starting point for enzyme descriptions and assays. Also presents quantitative assays for certain metabolites. (Good place to look for extinction coefficients.)
- Data for BioResearch.
- Think in general terms for subject search
- Good for theory and general descriptions of techniques but usually lack specific details on how to do the experiment.
- Good source for specific references.
- Some series- e.g. Advances in Enzymology, Annual Review in Biochemistry, Advances in Chromatography.
- Good for applications and current advancements of techniques and theories.
- Usually difficult to find protocols in reviews but the references are useful.
- Citation, index and abstract
- Current Awareness in Biological Sciences. Organized by subject with accompanying relevant publications for that year.
- Chemical abstracts - Books and on line, search by author, subject, compound, technique etc. (over 500,000 articles in 1986).
- Biological Abstracts -article abstracts, search by author or subject.
- Bioresearch Index
- Cumulated Index Medicus- physiological, biochemical, medically related journals are indexed.
- International Abstracts of Biological Sciences
- ISTP- Index to Scientific and Technical Proceedings - instruction on inside back cover.
- ISR- Index to Scientific Reviews - guide to use is in the introduction.
- ISBC- Index to Scientific Book Content- table of contents of each book, publisher, cost.
- SCI- Science Citation Index, trace by subject, author, or references.
- Compact Cambridge Life Sciences- Compact disk searching, limited to one or two search words, limited time frame (1982-present).
- Current Contents - excellent service for continued monitoring but limited for past searches (Riceinfo - library services - journal indexes - current contents (only for references of the past year).
- First Search - access through Fondren library site, enter life science or medicine indexes.
- Major Journals-literally hundreds!
Prior to going to the library:
- Define the topic or information you need (check Biochemistry textbook). Try to define alternative names and terms to enhance the efficiency of the search.
- Consider what resources are needed
- Will a standards book or methods book suffice?
- Do you have a particular author or paper to look up?
Go to the library- seek librarians help and guidance
- Begin searching- (consider initial try a trial run)
- check dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks-these may give you ideas on alternate terms to expand your search. In some cases materials may provide the information needed.
- check for books on general subject
- check review books and articles on the subject
- Conduct your search- Use boundaries to help narrow your search. (i.e., search only the years after the technique or compound was discovered.)
- Immediate supervisor and laboratory workers
- Other members of department (including graduate students and postdocs)
- Members of other departments (chemistry, math, etc.)
- Other schools, UTMed, Baylor, etc.
- Authors of original papers (FASEB directory, Faculty directory in departmental office and library.)
- Technical support people from instrument and reagent suppliers (check catalogs for 800 numbers and email)
- Specific methods books
- Methods in Enzymology
- Methods in Enzymatic Analysis, Bergmeyer
- Molecular Cloning, Maniatis
- Guide to Molecular Cloning, Berger and Kimmel
- Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Mass.Gen.Hosp. and Harvard Med Sch. (ring binder format updated quarterly)
- Organic Syntheses
- Lipid Biochemical Preparations
- Laboratory handbooks and textbooks
- BioRad (Pre 1986) describes column material, preparation, capacity, flow rates, example applications, references
- Pierce, describes principles, some applications and contains references
- Pharmacia publishes many booklets on chromatographic techniques
- Most new or small companies give substantial information about their product and possible applications
- Technical support publications
- Instrument suppliers
- Reagent suppliers
- Journals (This list contains only representative journals that I use most - there are many others that are equally useful.)
- Analytical Biochemistry-recent advances, good descriptions
- J.Biological Chemistry
- J. Cell Biology
- American J. Physiology
- Advertisement journals- American Laboratory, Chromatogram, Separation News, etc. (CAUTION: expect bias from the manufacturers and suppliers)
What to expect when starting a new project
- You may need a combination of techniques from several references.- e.g. extraction or source, assay, techniques and instrumentation.
- Always look for more than one method or technique. Use the reference for the first method to locate related methods (Science Citation Idex works well for this).
- Information about chemicals that are needed:
- grade and source
- safety considerations
- disposal and storage
- Description of methods
- may requrie an understanding of the terminology ("dried in vacuo" - Is this lyophilized or rotoevaporated?)
- exact description of conditions and settings are helpful
- Estimation of time to complete the project
- cost of operation
- read manual and follow advice and instructions
- understand theory and limitations of instrument
- What amount of starting material will yield your desired product?
- Can the method be scaled up or down?
- Consider cost of desired scale
Working in a laboratory (especially outside your assigned area)
- WRITE DOWN INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO YOU.
- Seek and follow tips and instructions on laboratory organization.
- Obtain instructions for equipment and devices you will use.
- Read manual if possible before using instrument.
- Put things back where you got them.
- Clean up your work area thoroughly.
- Be prepared to do maintenance on the instrument.
- You will be most welcome if you cause little disruption in the normal operation of the laboratory you are visiting. Most people are quite pleased to share their expertise but they do not want to do your project for you. They also expect the equipment and devices to be in the same state when you are finished as they were when you began. If something does break notify the laboratory supervisor.
and Intended Use
Created by B. Beason (email@example.com), Rice University, 11 June 1999
Updated 15 August 2000