The life sciences covered by this guide are: Agriculture, Biology, Botany, Ecology, Food Science, Forestry, Genetics, Natural Resources, Veterinary Medicine, Zoology. In the end, most of these topics revolve around research needed to feed and nurture mankind as well as other life on earth. Some life science research crosses into social science research, such as economics and sociology. Examples of this crossover include agricultural economics and studies of rural populations.
Some scientists believe that what is available in the literature is a minor reflection of what goes on in the laboratory. However, some estimates indicate that more than 200,000 items (journal articles, conference proceedings, books, etc.) are published each year for biology and agriculture.
Scientist's information needs will include: specific facts for supporting lab work (such as boiling points, chemical properties, etc.); synthesized information which denotes the state of research to date (such as annual reviews, books, or even journal articles); and extensive literature searches which will elicit all research on a very specific topic.
Journals play an important role in scholarly research in the life sciences. This is where the results of scientific experiments are scrutinized through a peer review process and reported publicly. Most of the journals available online are available on a subscription basis only. Very few are available for free.
Agricultural extension offices were developed in the 19th century in the United States as a means of communicating scientific knowledge to farmers, gardeners and other lay people who need life science information in their daily work. Increasingly, these offices as well as a number of other governmental agencies have a Web presence and communicate much of their knowledge online.
Search USA.gov to find food recalls issued by the FDA.[Links open in new browser window.]