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Life Sciences Databases

Use these databases  to search the world's literature for journal articles, reports, theses, conference papers, patents, & books on specific subjects or by specific authors.  

Access from this campus is for registered students and staff of the University of Cape Town only. Registered users may access these databases off campus by logging on to EZproxy.

Name of database and subjects covered in database:

Academic Search Premier - via EBSCOhost
Multidisciplinary. Provides journal coverage for most academic areas of study—including biological sciences, economics, communications, computer sciences, engineering, language and linguistics, arts and literature, medical sciences and women's studies. More...

AccessScience provides online access to the latest edition of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, Research Updates from the McGraw-Hill Yearbooks, thousands of illustrations, and the latest Science News® headlines, biographies, and more. Access limited to 2 simultaneous users. 

Africa-Wide :  NiPaD - via EBSCOhost
Africa-Wide: NiPAD combines databases (African Studies, South African Studies, and African Healthline) to form a multidisciplinary aggregation offering unique and extensive coverage of all facets of Africa and African studies. More...

Provides citations to agricultural literature. More...

Biological Abstracts (BIOSIS)- via ISI Web of Knowledge
Biological Abstracts is a comprehensive reference database covering life sciences journal literature. More... 

Biological & Agricultural Index - via EBSCOhost
Animal husbandry, biochemistry, botany, cytology, ecology, entomology, environmental science, fishery sciences, forestry, food science, genetics, horticulture, microbiology, nutrition, physiology, plant pathology, soil science, veterinary medicine, zoology. More...

Directory of Published Proceedings
Science/Technology; Medical/Life Sciences; Pollution Control/Ecology; Social Sciences/Humanities. Click on 'Search DoPP' to access material from conferences, meetings and symposia.

Environmental Impact Statements (EIS): Digests - via ProQuest
Air Transportation; Defense Programs; Energy; Hazardous Substances; Land Use; Parks, Refuges, and Forests; Research and Development; Roads and Railroads; Urban and Social Programs; Water.

Environment abstracts - via ProQuest
Environment Abstracts encompasses all aspects of the impact of people and technology on the environment and the effectiveness of remedial policies and technologies. Subject coverage: Agriculture, Air pollution, Control technologies, Endangered species, Energy, Environmental design, Environmental education, Environmental law and policy, Environmental safety, Geophysical and climate change... 

Forestry - via Sabinet Online
Is a unique pamphlet collection from forestry, wood science and nature conservation research institutes in South Africa, the USA, South America, Europe, Australasia and certain countries of Eastern Europe. This database is compiled by the University of Stellenbosch.

General Science Abstracts - via EBSCOhost
Astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, health & medicine, zoology...

Henry Stewart Talks: The Biomedical & Life Sciences Collection
This is a "collection of specially prepared animated audio visual presentations with synchronized narration by world leading scientists.

Index to South African Periodicals - via Sabinet Online
Indexed articles from more than 600 South African periodicals.

The ST (Science & Technology) Library offers full access to approximately 298 journals in the following subject areas: Agricultural & Environmental Science; Chemistry; Engineering, Computing & Technology; Mathematics & Statistics; Physics. The SSH (Social Science & Humanities) Library offers access to the full text of approximately 1,081 leading journals in the following subject areas: Arts & Humanities; Behavioural Science; Business, Management & Economics; Education; Geography, Planning, Urban & Environment; Media, Cultural & Communication Studies; Politics, International Relations & Area Studies; Social Sciences; Strategic, Defence & Security Studies.

It includes archives of over one thousand leading academic journals across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as select monographs and other materials valuable for academic work. More...

"Knovel is a web-based application which brings together high value engineering content from trusted sources with engineer optimized search facilities and analytical tools." Subject areas include: Biochemistry, Biology & Biotechnology; Chemistry & Chemical Engineering; Civil Engineering & Construction Materials; Electrical & Power Engineering; Electronics & Semiconductors; Mechanics & Mechanical Engineering; Nanotechnology; Sustainable Energy & Development; Transportation Engineering.

Provides authoritative medical information on medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, pre-clinical sciences, and much more. Created by the National Library of Medicine, MEDLINE uses MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) indexing with tree, tree hierarchy, subheadings and explosion capabilities to search citations from over 4,800 current biomedical journals.

PsycINFO - via EBSCOhost
Provides access to citations and summaries of journal articles, book chapters, books, and technical reports, as well as citations to dissertations, all in the field of psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines, such as medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, education, pharmacology, physiology, linguistics, anthropology, business, and law. Journal coverage, spanning 1887-present, includes international material selected from more than 1,300 periodicals written in over 25 languages. Current chapter and book coverage includes worldwide English-language material published from 1987-present.

Provides access to citations and summaries of journal articles, book chapters, books, and technical reports, as well as citations to dissertations, all in the field of psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines, such as medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, education, pharmacology, physiology, linguistics, anthropology, business, and law. Journal coverage, spanning 1887-present, includes international material selected from more than 1,300 periodicals written in over 25 languages. Current chapter and book coverage includes worldwide English-language material published from 1987-present.

Science Citation Index on Web of Science - via ISI Web of Knowledge
Some of the disciplines that are covered include: agriculture, astronomy, biochemistry, biology, biotechnology, chemistry, computer science, materials science, mathematics, medicine, neuroscience, oncology, pediatrics, pharmacology, physics, plant sciences, psychiatry, surgery, veterinary science, zoology.

ScienceDirect (Full Text)
ScienceDirect offers access to the Elsevier Science journal collection (over 1,200 titles), along with journals from a host of prestigious societies and scientific, technical and medical publishers. The full text collection of over 1 million articles from 1995 to present covers a wide variety of subject areas and disciplines in the sciences and social sciences.

SciFinder Scholar
SciFinder Scholar will allow you to search Chemical Abstracts and Medline on the Web. For instructions on how to set up SciFinder Scholar on your pc, click  here
(The client version of SciFinder Scholar does not work with EZproxy because EZproxy does not support the Z39.50 protocol).

"Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and quality web sources with smart tools to track, analyze and visualize research. It's designed to find the information scientists need. Quick, easy and comprehensive, Scopus provides superior support of the literature research process"

Springer Protocols
Springer Protocols is the largest subscription-based electronic database of reproducible laboratory protocols in the Life and Biomedical Sciences.

Sustainability Science Abstracts - via ProQuest
Major areas of coverage include: Human Population Dynamics; Population - Environment Relations; Population Statistics and Policy; Ecotourism; Sustainable Living and Consumption; Environmental Awareness and Education; Environmental Law, Conventions, & Policy; Sustainable Resource Base: Atmosphere; Land; Water and Biodiversity; Economic Drivers; Sustainable Development and Production; Sustainable Energy; Sustainable Transportation/Mobility.

Union Catalogue of Theses and Dissertations (UCTD) - via Sabinet Online
Bibliographic records of theses and dissertations at Master and Doctorate level submitted to universities in SA since 1918. Updated annually.

Waters and Oceans Worldwide (formerly Water Resources Worldwide) - via EBSCOhost
Waters & Oceans Worldwide combines databases on all facets of international water research.  Included in this collection are records from the now-ceased database Marine, Oceanographic and Freshwater Resources (MOFR), plus six of the world's major water resource databases, including WATERLIT, The Freshwater Biological Association Library Catalogue, The International Water Management Institute Database (IMWI), AQUAREF, ACQUIRE and Delft Hydro.   With excellent world coverage, this database includes research ranging from coastal and offshore engineering to pollution and water treatment.

Web of Science
Multidisciplinary coverage of over 10,000 high-impact journals in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities.

Wiley Online Library
Wiley Online Library hosts the world's broadest and deepest multidisciplinary collection of online resources covering life, health and physical sciences, social science, and the humanities. It delivers seamless integrated access to over 4 million articles from 1500 journals, 9000 books, and hundreds of reference works, laboratory protocols and databases.

WorldCat - via OCLC FirstSearch
The world's most comprehensive bibliography, with more than 44 million bibliographic records covering books, manuscripts, computer data files, maps, computer programs, musical scores, films and slides, newspapers, journals, sound recordings, magazines, and videotapes. Provides holdings information for South African libraries.

WorldCat Dissertations and Theses
This database provides access to the dissertations and theses available in OCLC member libraries. Many theses are available electronically, at no charge, directly from the publishing institution.

Zoological Record - via ISI Web of Knowledge
The world’s leading taxonomic reference; the unofficial registry of animal names. More...

TIPS for first-time searchers:

  • Make sure you understand your topic.  Ask a librarian to show you the specialised life sciences dictionaries and encyclopaedias that will help you do this.
  • Ask a Reference Librarian to help you choose which databases to search. 

  • As a general rule it is a good idea to start with Biological and Agricultural Index. This is a small high quality database covering about 400 of the core (English language) journals in the life sciences.  Very often you will find everything you need in this database.

  • If you need to search further, you can go on to a more specific databases such as Biological Abstracts or Zoological Index.

  • Always search Science Citation Index  ...  it covers the most highly regarded academic journals in the pure and applied sciences, and never fails to provide useful results.  ScienceDirect is another general science database that gives excellent results.

  • Make use of the databases' Help facilities.  Each database is different, so read the rules and tips provided to ensure that you get the most out of the resource you have chosen.

  • You can often save time by searching several databases simultaneously.  This is possible by searching via platforms for example EbscoHost, ISI Web of knowledge or CSA Illumina. Some of these are listed above. More databases by platform.

  • Always start by using the most specific search terms you can think of to describe your topic.  If you're searching for information on abalone, don't start by searching for "shellfish" or "marine molluscs".  Use terms like  "abalone" or "haliotis".  You can always use broader terms later if you don't find anything specific.

  • If you haven't heard of "Boolean searching", "wild cards", "truncation", or "limiting", ask the Reference Librarian to go over the basics of database searching with you.

  • If your search yields no results, try using different search terms or making your search strategy broader by leaving out one or more concepts.  If you still don't get results, ask a librarian for some assistance!

  • Remember that the databases that the library provides are commercially produced and therefore don't cover only the journals held by UCT Libraries.  The references you find could well be in journals which we don't have here.  Your first step after completing your search is to check your list of references against ALEPH (UCT Libraries online catalogue) to see if we subscribe to the journals in which the articles are published.  And you should also check the electronic journals list to see if you can get the full text of the articles on the Web.  If you don't find records for your journals in either of these, then ask the Reference Librarian about requesting them from other libraries via interlibrary loan.