University of Oregon

Finding Factual Science Information

On this page: Animals & Plants     Chemical Compounds     Journal Abbreviations     Medical/Anatomical     Statistics & Numeric Data

This guide points you towards sources containing some of our most commonly requested scientific factual information and data. It is by no means comprehensive, but may serve as a helpful starting point for many questions. Please consult a science reference librarian if you can't find what you want on this page, or for more information.


Animals & Plants

  • Finding information on specific species, such as life history, habitat, geographic distribution, etc.

Encyclopedias & Handbooks


  • Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia [Sci Ref QL 7813 2003 (17 vols)]-- a good starting point.
  • For birds: Birds of North America [SciRef QL681 .B57 1992 (18 vols.)]or Handbook of the Birds of the World [SciRef QL673 .H25 1992 (still in progress)]
  • For mammals: Mammalian Species (still in progress) -- now available electronically through:
    • BioOne (need to use the search function -- enter name of animal and select journal: Mammalian Species) for accounts published 2000-present;
    • For earlier accounts see the cumulative index to Mammalian Species, with pdfs, compiled by Virginia Hayssen at Smith College.
  • Oregon animals--the library has a number of reference books and field guides. Here are a few that may be good starting points:
    • Amphibians of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia: A Field Identification Guide [QL653.N95 C67 2006]
    • Birds of Oregon: A General Reference [SciRef QL684.O6 B56 2003]
    • Birds of Lane County, Oregon [QL684.O6 B555 2006]
    • Bugs of Washington and Oregon [QL475 .W2 A36 2001]
    • Land Mammals of Oregon [SciRef QL719.O7 V474 1998]
    • Mammals of the Pacific Northwest: From the Coast to the High Cascades [Sci Ref QL719.O7 M37 1998]


  • Flora of North America: North of Mexico (incomplete) [SciRef QK110 .F55 1993], or try field guides. You could give the online field guides at a try.
  • Search the library catalog for flora of specific geographic regions. Sample keyword search: flora <and> costa rica
  • Field guides to vegetation of Oregon and Pacific NW: see call numbers QK182 and QK 144


You may have some luck finding articles with this kind of information in an appropriate database, such as...

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Chemical Compounds

  • Finding physical property information, etc.

All purpose starting place: CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics [SciRef QD65 .C4] Several recent editions in Science Reference (more in the stacks)

Is the compound organic or inorganic? If you need more information about just what type of compound it is, try a chemical dictionary like Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary [QD5. C5 2007]


  • Deans' Handbook of Organic Chemistry [SciRef QD251.3 .G65 2004]
  • Dictionary of Organic Compounds. [SciRef QD246 .D5 1982 and supplements]
  • Handbook of Data on Organic Compounds. [SciRef QD257.7 .H36 1994]

For many more resources, see the web page for CH339 (Organic Analysis), an excellent list of resources both in print and on the web.

Inorganic (or not sure)

  • Print: Reference sections QD65 (general chemistry handbooks, including the CRC), and QD146-197 (inorganic chemistry); the Dictionary of Inorganic Compounds [QD148 .D53] and supplements is a good starting point.
  • Web: See the Handbooks, Tables and Reference Data section of the Chemistry web research guide. Good ones to start with are:
    • Index to Physical, Chemical, and other Property Data from Arizona State University. Some of the online resources are for ASU only, but many of the books indexed can be found in the UO Science Library.
    • Materials Properties Locator Database from SUNY Buffalo. Helps to locate reference books containing property data. Searchable by property and type of material. The UO Science Library will have some, but not all, of these books.
    • NIST Chemistry WebBook National Institute of Standards and Technology thermochemical, thermophysical and spectral data for thousands of compounds and reactions.

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Journal Title Abbreviations

Have a journal abbreviation from a list of references and you don't know what it stands for? Try these sources:

Periodical Title Abbreviations. v.1 By Abbreviation, 17th ed. SCI REF Z6945 .A2

  • Shelved behind the Science Reference Desk

All that JAS: Journal Abbreviation Sources

CAS Source Index (CASSI) Search Tool

  • Use this to quickly identify or confirm journal titles and abbreviations for publications indexed by Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) since 1907, including serial and non-serial scientific and technical publications.

Science & Engineering Journal Abbreviations

  • An excellent site from University of British Columbia


Medical & Anatomical Information

Medical Information

  • Facts about medical conditions -- diseases, injuries, etc.

Medical Dictionaries and Encyclopedias, e.g.

  • Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary SCI REF R121 .D73
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine SCI REF RC41 .G35 2002 [5 vols.], also online
  • Oxford Reference Online: Medicine & Health
  • Oxford Textbook of Medicine SCI REF RC46 .O995 2003 [3 vols.]
  • Stedman's Medical Dictionary SCI REF R121 .S8 2000

An excellent web source is:

MedlinePlus -- this provides excellent introductory information on conditions, diseases, and wellness; also has a medical dictionary, drug information, and links to PubMed.

Anatomical References

Gray's Anatomy SCI REF QM23.2 .G73 (earlier editions are available in the circulating stacks)

(Netter) Atlas of Human Anatomy SCI REF QM25 .N46

Thieme Atlas of Anatomy SCI REF QM25 .A4413 2006

SMART Imagebase "Scientific & Medical ART (SMART) imagebase is a collection of 11,000+ high quality illustrations and animations depicting anatomy, physiology, surgery, diseases, conditions, trauma, embryology, histology, and other health science topics. ...users may download images for educational, non-commercial use in lectures, presentations, slide shows, web sites and more"

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Statistics and Numerical Data

These can be tricky to track down. We have some reference books that will have statistics and numerical data on things relating to energy and the environment:

  • Berinstein, Paula. Alternative Energy: Facts, Statistics, Issues. SCI REF TJ808 .B467 2001
  • Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change (5 vols.) SCI REF GE149 .E443 2002
  • Environmental Encyclopedia SCI REF GE19 .E38 2003 Also online
  • Macmillan Encyclopedia of Energy.(3 vols) SCI REF TJ163.28 .M33 2001
  • Van der Leeden, Frits. The Water Encyclopedia SCI REF TD351 .V36 1990 -- this contains tables of hydrologic data on world's rivers, lakes, groundwater supply, etc.

We also have a few reference volumes with numerical data on biological organisms. See, e.g.:

  • Biology Data Book [SciRef QH310 .A392 (3 vols.)

Web resources -- a lot of statistical data resides on the web, but searching Google may not find it for you, as a lot of it is in the "deep" or "invisible" web, i.e. in a dynamic database. So you need to know where to go to search. Here are some starting points to help you:

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