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Animals Research Guide

This guide will help you start your research on a topic dealing with animals for your research paper or presentation.

Reference Books - Searching the Library Catalog - Searching Electronic Resources - Periodicals in Print - Searching the Internet - Web Evaluation - Citing Your Sources

Reference Books

Reference books are a good place to start your research. The following list of books will help you narrow down your topic, find additional search terms, and get a general overview of your topic before you begin your research. This is not an exhaustive list, so be sure to look at the books shelved near these titles for additional books.

Animals - General

  • Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia (17 vol.) – REF QL3 .G7813
  • Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Animals: A Visual Who’s Who of the World’s Creatures – REF QL605. 4. S56
  • Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals (5 vol.) – REF QL701 .G7913
  • Grzimek’s Student Animal Life Resource (5 vol.) - REF QL703 .G79
  • Encyclopedia of Mammals (17 vol.) – REF QL706 .2 .E54
  • Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior (3 vol.) - REF QL750 .3 .E53


  • The Illustrated Book of Signs & Symbols – REF AZ108 .B78
  • The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols – REF AZ108 .C4413
  • Dictionary of Symbols: An Illustrated Guide to Traditional Images, Icons, and Emblems  – REF AZ108 .T74
  • Symbolic and Mythological Animals – REF GR820 .C66

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Searching the Library Catalog

To find a book, search the library's online catalog. The following are the various ways of searching the online catalog.

Here are some subject headings you may use for a simple subject search (you will then want to scroll down the index for additional related headings):

  • Zoology
  • Animals
  • Animals—Folklore
  • Animals, Mythical
  • Animal lore
  • Mammals
  • Marine animals
  • Birds
  • Insects

2. To conduct a simple keyword search, try some of the following search terms (remember to put phrases in quotation marks & note that doing a keyword search will produce broader results than the subject search):

  • “animal life”
  • “rare animal?”
  • “wild animal?”

3. Browsing the library shelves is another good way to find additional resources. Look in the QL (Zoology) section for relevant sources on animals.

A Few Recommended Books that Circulate

  • World of Animals: A Treasury of Lore, Legend, and Literature by Great Writers and Naturalists from 5th Century B.C. to the Present - QL50 .K7
  • Animals with Human Faces: A Guide to Animal Symbolism – GR705 .R68
  • Bestiary for Saint Jerome: Animal Symbolism in European Religious Art – ND1432.E85 F74

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Searching Electronic Resources for Articles

The OCC Library has many databases that contain a wide variety of magazine, journal, and newspaper articles, as well as ebooks, multimedia and more. It's important to select the correct database. A librarian can assist you with this task. This is a list of the most pertinent sources. You can find all of the databases that are available on the library's Periodicals and Electronic Resources page. If you are off campus, you will need to log on with your student ID and last name.

  • Britannica Online - Online dictionary and encyclopedia and more. Good for providing a general overview of your topic.
  • Academic OneFile - Database of magazine and journal articles, most of which are available in full-text. You may also limit your search to scholarly journals.
  • Academic Search Premier - Similar to Academic Onefile, but with different content. Database of magazine and journal articles, most of which are available in full-text. You may also limit your search to scholarly journals.

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Periodicals in Print at OCC Library

The following periodicals are found in the Periodicals section of the library and are filed in alphabetical order by title.

  • National Geographic
  • Scientific American

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Searching the Internet for Web Sites

  • IPL2 - This site was developed by librarians as a reliable and efficient guide to Internet resources. This site is a searchable, annotated subject directory of more than 14,000 Internet resources that have been selected and evaluated by librarians.
  • DMOZ Open Directory Project – This human-edited directory of the Web breaks the topics into sub-topics and also provides “see also” references. Try the pathway: Arts > Literature > Myths and Folktales and Society > Folklore > Literature > Tales > Animals and Plants
  • Google Advanced Search - Instead of using Google's default search, try the advanced search. There are a lot of tools that will give you better results, such as a box that lets you limit your results to a domain such as .edu or .gov.

Recommended Web Sites

  • Animal Diversity Web - From the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Search the site or browse by kingdom. Includes information, pictures, specimens, sounds, and classification of animals.
  • The Electronic Zoo - Access links to various animal Web sites by type of animal. From the Washington University.

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Web Evaluation

Evaluating Web Sites - A quick and useful guide to help you evaluate the Web pages you find for purpose, authority, objectivity, relevance, currency, and responsibility.

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Citing Your Sources

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(JK/VO Updated 3/08, updated lc 05/12)​​