100 Best Reference Sites for Science Students

by Staff Writers

By Katheryn Rivas

Those taking college courses in the sciences likely already have a great number of resources at their disposal courtesy of their school library. But what about those late night study sessions when you need information — and need it fast — and don't have time for a trip to the library? Or when you just want to learn new information without having to leave the house? That's when these 100 reference sites will come in handy, letting you look up everything from the basics of the periodic table to the intricacies of human DNA.


These general reference tools will answer some of your more basic science questions and often cover a range of fields and specialties.

  1. Science References: This site provides hundreds of references you can use if you have a science query.
  2. Science Reference Services: Here you'll find a great collection of bibliographies and research guides.
  3. ScienceWorld: This reference on math and science offers information on chemistry, astronomy, physics, math and more.
  4. Index: Search through government resources on just about every science subject out there through this site.
  5. Science Magazine: Journals, blogs and multimedia that are science related are found on this magazine's website.
  6. Beta-Theta: This site offers references on chemistry, physics, and biology.
  7. Science and Engineering Encyclopedia: Look up terms and phenomena in a wide range of fields using this encyclopedia.
  8. RefScout: Sign up through this site and you'll get weekly emails about the latest science reference materials sent right to your inbox.
  9. Knovel: Browse through information in engineering, chemistry, biology and much more using this research-focused tool.
  10. If you need a formula, chances are good you'll find it in this repository for scientists and engineers.


If you're taking a tough chemistry course, get some support from these helpful resources.

  1. PTable: You might have a periodic table in your textbook, but this dynamic and fully interactive version is a step up.
  2. Chemfinder: Using this directory, you can look up any chemical or molecule structure out there.
  3. Chemdex: Those looking to go to grad school or trying to find a researcher working on a particular chemistry topic should take advantage of this global database.
  4. Molecular Weight Calculator: Type in a molecular formula and get the information you need here.
  5. Wolfram Research Chemistry Reference: From basic chemical reactions to inorganic chemistry, you'll find loads of tools and information to help you out here.
  6. On-Line Encyclopedia of Chemical Terms: Look up any chemistry-related term in this great online encyclopedia.
  7. ChemnetBase: Here you will find an absolute wealth of information on chemicals, formulae and structures.
  8. NIST Chemistry Web Book: This indexed book allows you to search by molecular weight, reaction, properties and more to find the information you need.
  9. Chemistry Virtual Textbook: Forgot your chem textbook? Use this handy online text for reference.
  10. Chemtutor: If you're not doing so hot in your chemistry course, consider taking some lessons on this free tutoring site.


Here you'll find a great collection of resources to help you find answers and do better in bio.

  1. Biology Online: On this site you can post questions in a forum, look things up in a bio dictionary, and read all kinds of informative articles and tutorials.
  2. Everything Bio: Check out this resource to find a glossary, textbooks, images and a range of other online biology tools.
  3. Life Science Dictionary: Try out this dictionary to look up life science terms and identify their meanings.
  4. Molecular Biology Glossary: Students of molecular biology will appreciate this valuable research tool.
  5. National Biological Information Infrastructure: Want to know and read about the research being done in the life sciences? Check out this site.
  6. Biology Reference: You can look up loads of helpful biology terms in this online encyclopedia.
  7. Biology Nation: From finding the best biology grad programs to looking up biology terminology, this site is a one-stop resource.
  8. Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology: Search through this online dictionary to refresh your memory on the parts of the cell.
  9. BioScience: With a dictionary, encyclopedia, links, software, and custom search tools, you'll find more reference material than you could ever need on this site.
  10. All Experts: Biology: Have a biology question you just can't seem to find the answer to? This site may be able to help.


These reference tools will lay out the human genome for you, piece by piece.

  1. Amino Acids Repository: Use this site as a reference on amino acid properties alone and in proteins.
  2. Table of Standard Genetic Code: This site is a great reference when trying to remember which part of DNA goes where.
  3. Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms: Don't know how to say a particular term? No worries, this glossary will tell you and more.
  4. Human Genome Acronym List: Don't have a clue what the ASHG is? This site can help you look it up.
  5. Genetics Resources on the Web: Search through this site for the best genetics resources the web has to offer.
  6. National Human Genome Research Institute: This site offers a number of helpful educational resources for students young and old.
  7. Genetics Virtual Library: Search by organism or topic to find the genetic information you need to do your homework.
  8. Genetics Home Reference: Those studying genetic disorders will appreciate this quick online reference for conditions.
  9. GeneTests: Even if you're not in medicine, you'll be able to find interesting and compelling information on this site.
  10. Gene Cards: You'll find a collection of concise information on just about every gene out there on this site.


Look up terms, find pictures and get all kinds of information on plants from these resources.

  1. Botany Glossary Online: Enter a common or Latin name into this database to find more information.
  2. Bryological Glossary: Study mosses from around the world with this helpful glossary.
  3. Index Herbariorum: A Global Directory of Public Herbaria and Associated Staff: Use this site to search by institution, city, state, acronym, staff member, correspondent, research specialty, and important collections.
  4. Dictionary of Common Names: Find out a plant's Latin name using its common name or vice versa using this tool.
  5. Index Nominum Genericorum: Use this tool to search for a wide range of plants by their common names.
  6. Plants Database: The Natural Resources Conservation Service maintains this impressive database of North American plant species.
  7. Virtual Library of Botany: Find a wide range of resources related to botany and other plant sciences on this gateway site.
  8. Economic Botany Bibliographic Database: Through this portal you can search for research and bibliographies.
  9. International Plant Names Index: Use the scientific name to search for plants on this site and find out what research has referenced them.
  10. Index of Botanical Publications: You can find just about any botanical publication you could need through this site.


Delve into the animal world using these zoological resources.

  1. American Museum of Natural History Scientific Publications: This reference tool will let you search through a wide variety of scientific publications to find the information you need.
  2. Mammal Species of the World: Download this list to get the names and information of every known mammal in the world.
  3. The Tree of Life Web Project: From evolutionary history to modern characteristics, this site attempts to organize the history of life.
  4. Nomenclatural Glossary for Zoology: This site will let you more easily browse through and find what you need when it comes to doing zoology research.
  5. Nature Serve Explorer: This site provides an amazing online encyclopedia of life forms.
  6. Species 2000: Explore this database to find research and information on every animal and plant species out there.
  7. Amphibian Species of the World: An Online Reference: If your research involves amphibians, you can find some great basic information on this site.
  8. Zoonomen: Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Find photos and research information on all kinds of bird species through this site.
  9. Audubon Society Bird Resources: Visit one of the most well-know ornithological organizations to get a great amount of information on species around the world.
  10. Dictionary of Ichthyology-Related Terms: Improve your fish-related research with a little help from this online dictionary.


These selections can help you identify minerals, study volcanoes and even track the world's earthquakes.

  1. Mineral Gallery: Search through all the minerals out there and find out more about their physical properties on this site.
  2. Find answers to basic geology questions, look at maps, and see satellite images as well as a whole lot more through this site.
  3. Geologic Ages: This site acts as a great reference tool for looking up and remembering the geologic ages.
  4. GeologyLink Glossary: Look up geologic terms in this online dictionary using this site.
  5. Mineralogy Database: On this site you'll find the reference information for over 4,714 minerals.
  6. Geologic Guidebooks of North America: Use this site to look through just about every geologic guidebook of North America.
  7. Earthquake News: Follow where in the world earthquakes are taking place using this tool, great for aspiring seismologists.
  8. MTU Volcanoes: Learn more about how volcanoes work and where active eruptions are taking place on this site.
  9. Geology Link Page: You'll find an amazing number of useful geologic links for societies, government institutions, and individual fields of study on this site.
  10. GISnet: Check out this site for more information on Geographic Information Systems.


These reference tools offer help in everything from remembering the basic formulas of physics to reading the latest literature in the field.

  1. From a great physics glossary to the Greek alphabet, this site offers many references making it well worth bookmarking.
  2. American Institute of Physics: Use the Niels Bohr Library and Archives to search for physics-related research and information.
  3. The Laws List: You'll want to bookmark this site as it's full of all the laws of physics and astronomy you'll need to know.
  4. Physics for Free: This site is home to some introductory physics texts you can use for free.
  5. Physics Reference Desk: With everything from the Planck constant to a unit conversion calculator, this site is a great tool for studying physics.
  6. Physics Glossary: If you're unsure exactly what a particular term means, just look it up here.
  7. World of Physics: This site offers references and basic information on just about every specialization in physics.
  8. HyperPhysics: Use this reference to learn more about nuclear physics, astrophysics, light and vision and much more.
  9. Physics-Help: Those seeking help with physics homework can ask questions and find answers on this site.
  10. PACS Scheme Guide: Not sure what your area of interest would be called? This classification system can help.


Use these reference guides to identify the stars, learn the correct terminology and find out more about the universe as we know it.

  1. Astronomical Constants: Bookmark this site for a quick reference when it comes to astronomical constants like the Earth's orbital velocity.
  2. Astronomy Thesaurus: This reference tool will help you standardize your terminology when it comes to astronomy.
  3. The Nine Planets: While it's been technically renamed Eight Planets after the loss of Pluto, this site will help you find all the information you need about our planetary neighbors.
  4. NASA Space Flight Glossary: Look up any space flight vocabulary using this site.
  5. Aladin Interactive Sky Atlas: This site allows users to "visualize digitized astronomical images, superimpose entries from astronomical catalogues or databases, and interactively access related data and information from the Simbad database, the VizieR service and other archives for all known sources in the field."
  6. Astronomical Data Center: This site is home to images, mission information, heliophysics, and universe-wide exploration.
  7. Astronomy Digital Image Library: Need an astronomy image? Check out the information and resources on this site.
  8. HyperLeda: This site serves as a database on the physics of galaxies from the basics to more specific spectrophotometry.
  9. 100 Hours of Astronomy: Find photos, blogs, and many more astronomical resources on this site.
  10. AstroWeb: On this site you'll find links to astronomy departments, organizations, data resources, observatories and much more.

Environmental Science

Study ecology and environmental policy through these reference sites.

  1. Ecology Dictionary: Look up ecological terms using this helpful reference.
  2. Solar-Terrestrial Physics Glossary: Bookmark this tool to explore the terminology associated with solar-terrestrial physics.
  3. RadWaste: Take advantage of this site to learn more about radioactive waste and harmful waste products.
  4. EnviroLink: From climate to water quality, this site offers great resources on everything environmental.
  5. Virtual Library of Ecology and Biodiversity: Search through all kinds of information on ecology and the environment on this site, as well as a range of other science related topics.
  6. Worldwide Weather and Climate: Check up on the weather and current temp anywhere in the world using this tool.
  7. Ecology Online: Use this site to search through courses, textbooks, research and even test yourself when you're done.
  8. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network: Learn what government initiatives are working on cleaner energy through this site.
  9. American Meteorology Society: Take your weather knowledge to the next level with research and information from the American Meteorology Society.
  10. NOAA: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will help you understand the relationship between weather, the environment and commerce.