eGuide: Natural sciences information sources

Last updated: September 2019

Searching for books

There are two key library catalogues you may 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 – to 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 iDiscover: eGuide for further information.

You will be able to borrow from Girton’s Main Library and the University Library. You will need to check each library’s website to find out their borrowing and access restrictions. For a full list of the Cambridge libraries see the directory and check each library for access guidelines.

Search Spacefinder to find other places of study within Cambridge.


Subject-specific resources

For information on searching general databases and journals see our eGuide: Beyond books: finding articles and journals. To find links to specific databases and journals see the eresources and ejournals LibGuide. Relevant resources can also be found within subject LibGuides. 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 Searching the Evidence in Scopus

Teach yourself Searching the Evidence in PubMed.

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.

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 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:


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:


Earth science



Plant Sciences


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, for example:


Departmental websites

Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics



Biology (Faculty)


Computer Laboratory

Earth Sciences


History and Philosophy of Science

Materials Science and Metallurgy




Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Plant Sciences




Other websites



Finding ebooks

You can find most of the university’s ebooks via iDiscover. To understand what an ebook is, and what ebooks are available – read Introduction to ebooks. For help with searching for ebooks read Finding and using ebooks.


Help within College

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


Help within Cambridge

University of Cambridge training programmes


eresources and ejournals

Cambridge University Skills Portal

Help With Electronic Resources

Jenny Blackhurst
t: +44 (0) 1223 338970