Efficient scholarly research helps to reduce unnecessary experiments

Scholarly Research reduces unnecessary experimentation

Nobody wants to reinvent the wheel. Look at all of the pain staking work that goes into re-testing previous experiments and developing methods that have already been known for decades. By taking our time to define our problems, hypothesize our solutions,and search through literature prior to executing on our plans, we can dramatically improve the effectiveness of our research. In fact, people dedicate entire chunks of their lives to being good at searching and testing! (Hint…it’s called a PhD).

In this blog post, I wanted to discuss the tools that are available to help Biologists and biochemists perform effective research. In particular I wanted to focus on biology-related search engines and their development/features since their inception.

Note: If you’re writing research papers, I highly recommend Grammarly – it’s a free grammar check plugin for Chrome. Try it out here

A list of tools for biologists to efficiently perform their scholarly searches

  1. Scigine: A search engine for methods in biology, biochemistry, pharmaceutics, and clinical science. Provides step-by-step methods along with the ability to take “notes“, modify methods, and view them on a phone/tablet while performing experiments. Users can also share their notes with colleagues with the click of a button. (~600,000+ methods)
  2. Protocols.io: A “git-hub” for biology with the ability to “fork” methods and modify them. Also includes the ability to form groups with others to share methods online.  (~700 methods)
  3. Protocols-online: A collection of methods aggregated from multiple authors along with forums to ask questions and trending jobs for biologists and biochemists. (~1000 methods)
  4. Vadlo: Or “Fig”, hones google in to specific biology-related websites by providing a custom search text box. It is possible to use this search feature to broadly find methods, presentations, and articles that would normally be found through google.
  5.  DOAJ: The directory of open access journals provides access to over 1.9 million journal articles in biology, biochemistry, and related fields. In case your library does not provide access to journal articles, the DOAJ is a solid resource that is freely available.
  6. PubMed: From the website – “PubMed comprises more than 26 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.” This is the go-to site for scholarly research in biology and related fields.
  7. Microsoft Research Tools: A collection of online tools for genomics and bioinformatics provided by the Microsoft Biology Initiative.
  8. PubAlert: Automatic weekly or daily digests of PubMed searches for your keywords. This is a great tool for keeping up with the latest research in your field. Example, setting up an alert for “Actin” will provide you with an email digest of the most recent articles with “Actin” in the title or abstract.

Hopefully, this blog post provides a good “lay of the land”.

Enjoy the list of tools!

Note: Grammarly is a free grammar check plugin for Chrome. I used it for this article and really like it! Try it out here


By Karthik Raman, PhD

I am a PhD Bioengineer specialized in utilizing heparan sulfate and heparin for drug delivery to brain tumors. My expertise lies in the interface between polymer chemistry, protein biochemistry, and cellular biology.

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