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Biology: Methods & Protocols

Use this guide as your first stop to finding and using the Biology resources and services of the UC San Diego Library.

Major Online Protocols/Methods Collections

Here are some of our major licensed protocols collections. These are restricted to users connected to the UC San Diego network. Be sure you are using a UC San Diego networked computer or have your computer set up for off-campus access

Free Online Resources

Books: Print and Online

The UC San Diego Library catalog, Roger, contains information on all the resources (books, journal subscriptions, government publications, etc.) owned by the UC San Diego Library in print and online. Because protocols and methods can be scattered throughout the collection, it can be tricky to find them all. The sample search below if for a topic you enter and adds some keywords and limits to narrow your search to protocols & methods. 

Just copy and paste the search below and replace the word yourtopic with your actual topic. This works best if you keep the topic fairly broad. 

yourtopic AND (protocol* OR method* OR labfax)

Some tips:

  • After you have some search results you can use "Modify Search" to add limits like date, language, material type, and location.
  • If you are specifically interested in electronic resources, select that collection from the main Roger page before you start a search.

Journal Articles: BIOSIS and PubMed

BIOSIS Citation Index and PubMed are both good sources for journal articles that provide methods and protocols. There is some overlap in the journals that are covered, but in general, BIOSIS is more biology-oriented and PubMed is more medicine-oriented.

BIOSIS Citation Index

BIOSIS has two ways to search for methods/protocols on your topic.

1. Concept codes  

BIOSIS uses a system of "concepts" that can help you whittle a large search down. The most relevant one is the major concept methods and techniques.    

    • From the main search screen: Put your topic in one search field box
    • In the second box select Major Concept and type "methods and techniques" in quotes

2. Literature type: Protocol (Note: This approach is very specific and sometimes results in zero hits.)

    • Enter your topic in the first search box on the default search screen.
    • For the second box, use the pulldown on the right to change the search to “literature type” and select protocol from the menu.



In PubMed, your search terms are automatically mapped to official terminology from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) vocabulary. Unfortunately, there is no single MeSH term for protocols. Instead, MeSH has standard "subheadings" (sh) for specific aspects of a subject, like dosage of a drug. Some of the more relevant ones are included below. You can copy and paste these onto the end of any search - be sure to use the brackets exactly as shown.

AND analysis [sh]

AND biosynthesis [sh]

AND chemistry [sh]

AND diagnostic use [sh]

AND instrumentation [sh]

AND methods [sh]

For example, if you want methods relating to cox2, you would type:cox2 AND methods [sh]

Questions? Contact me

Jenny Reiswig's picture
Jenny Reiswig
UC San Diego Library
9500 Gilman Drive, 0699
La Jolla, CA, 92093