eGuide: Natural sciences information sources

Last updated: November 2018

Searching for books

There are two key library catalogues you will want to use when studying at Cambridge:

  • Girton Library catalogue (Heritage) – search Girton Library’s collection and see if items are available or already on loan. See our eGuide for further information.
  • iDiscover – search across the University’s print and electronic collections (including books, eBooks, journals, newspapers, articles and much more). Most, but not all, of Girton’s collection can be found here. See our eGuide for further information.

You will be able to borrow from Girton’s Main Library and the University Library. The Natural Sciences LibGuide provides a list of other libraries that will have relevant collections. You will need to check each library’s website to find out their borrowing and access restrictions.

Search Spacefinder to find other places of study within Cambridge.


Useful resources

Most electronic resources can be found by searching iDiscover. Alternatively, you can search specific databases and journals via the eresources and ejournals LibGuides. You can refine by subject area to find the most relevant resources. Some key resources include:

Scopus – describes itself as the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. It includes 50 million records from over 21,000 journals (including all the journals covered by Medline). 70% of records include an abstract, and there are links to full-text where available.

Teach yourself

SciFinder Scholar (on-campus only – registration required) – “ world’s best chemistry research tool”, as it describes itself. Takes its information from a variety of Chemical abstracts databases and also MEDLINE. Aims to provide access to research from many scientific disciplines, including biomedical sciences, chemistry, engineering, materials science and agricultural science.

PubMed – biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Includes citations and links to full text, where available. Also, see PubMed books shelf.

Teach yourself – Searching the Evidence in Scopus.

Trends… journals which feature a lot in Part IA reading lists.

Web of Science provides access to Thomson Reuter’s multidisciplinary databases of bibliographic information such as the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index and the Arts and Humanities Citation Index.

SciFinder is a research discovery application that provides unlimited access to the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative source of references, substances and reactions in chemistry and related sciences.

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I Comprehensive collection of dissertations and theses from around the world, spanning from 1743 to the present day. Access is to the abstracts only. Full text can either be purchased online via ProQuest directly or by contacting the Inter-Library Loans dept: E-mail:


Finding eBooks

Find eBooks on iDiscover. Read an introduction to eBooks or finding and using eBooks for further information.


For information on searching for websites, see Girton College Library eGuides: 1, Effective internet searching. The Virtual Training Suite provides introductions to using the web which is tailored to specific disciplines. Tutorials which would be useful to natural scientists include:

One of the easiest ways to discover information of academic value on the internet is to use one of the many subject-related gateways or hubs, e.g.:

University of Cambridge webpages:
Earth Sciences
History and philosophy of science (see the various “HPS resources” links)
Other examples:

Help within College

Library staff can provide support and assistance. You can book an appointment with library staff or ask a question via The Colleges’ Fellow for Study Skills will also be able to help.


Help within Cambridge

Information about study skills, including essay-writing, note-taking and preparation for exams is available online. You may need your UIS or Raven password to access it. Some of the information is subject specific, some general, e.g.:

Help With Electronic Resources

Jenny Blackhurst
t: +44 (0) 1223 338970