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Zoology: For Researchers

Flowchart showing stages of the Research Lifecycle starting with Plan & Design, moving on to Collect & Capture, then on to Collaborate & Analyse. The next stage is Manage, Store and Preserve, followed by Share & Publish before finishing with Discover, Reuse & Cite. This stage connects to the first stage and the cycle continues.














The Research Data Management Lifecycle by Gaelen Pinnock (CC BY)

Support throughout the Research Lifecycle

The Literature Review

Searching for literature in any field can be time-consuming and fairly confusing. You can get guidance from any of the School of Biological Sciences librarians but if you're not sure who to ask, email us and we will be able to set up a time to go through your needs.

For a list of all the online databases that the University subscribes to, visit the A-Z Databases guide

Wolfson College have an excellent guide on how to search for literature, as well as some helpful videos showing a search from start to finish. 

Managing your references

Managing what you read, where you read it and who said what you read is an integral part of being an effective researcher. Your local librarians are very skilled in helping you work through what reference manager to use and how to use it, as well as how to cite according to different styles. Contact the School of Biological Sciences team if you need to talk to someone about your references.

Ethics and compliance

Ethics and compliance can sound like two intimidating words but they are also very important ones to understand in relation to how you do your research. The University's Research Operations Office has lots of guidance and training on these topics to help.

Data Management Plan

Having a good data management plan (DMP) in place before you start any research project, no matter how simple or complex it might be, is a critical stage in getting prepared to do good research. Some funders even require you to have a plan before they fund you or very soon after your funding begins so having one ready is always useful. 

The University's Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) has some excellent guidance pages on how to write a DMP, as well as what tools are available to make the process a bit easier. If you get stuck, the OSC team can help as can the School of Biological Sciences Libraries team

Grant planning

Need to fund your research and want to apply for a grant. Visit the University's Research Operations Office website for extensive guidance on how to do this. 

Data Management Plan

Once you've started collecting data for your research, whether that's reading around your topic through collecting articles or going out into the field to collect samples, you will need to have a good data management plan in place to make sure you are able to look after everything for the duration of your research project. Having a plan as early as possible is key, especially if a funder is asking you for one.  

The University's Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) has some excellent guidance pages on how to write a DMP, as well as what tools are available to make the process a bit easier. If you get stuck, the OSC team can help as can the School of Biological Sciences Libraries team

Ethics and compliance

Now you've started researching your topic, you need to make sure you are doing so ethically and that you are complying with any rules or regulations that you need to abide by. The University's Research Operations Office has lots of guidance and training on these topics to help.


Organising and managing your data is essential to making sure that you have a robust set of information to back up your research. Metadata is a big part of this organisation process and the University's Office of Scholarly Communication has some useful guidance on metadata as well as other ways of keeping your work organised. 

Collaboration tools

The University offers a range of different tools aimed at helping people collaborate and research together. From Gitlab to Office 365, the University Information Services can help you get started

Electronic Lab Notebooks

Some labs benefit from electronic solutions to document and collaborate on research. Visit the Gurdon Institute website for an extensive breakdown and comparison of what products could be available.

Collaborating through code

Analysing and collaborating on your research can be a powerful and effective way of getting things done well and accurately. The Bioinformatics Training team offer a wide range of training opportunities from getting to grips with coding to more specialised areas such as protein structure analysis. 

Reusing and sharing

Reusing and collaborating on other people's research is a key part of building on work done and discovering new things. It has become more common within research for people to share their writing, datasets, software, code, and almost anything else through different licensing systems. These systems communicate to others how they can reuse a particular piece of research and what, if any, limitations there might be around that reuse. 

Creative Commons is the most prevalent copyright licensing systems currently in use, with many funders requiring research articles to be published using a Creative Commons license often referred to as CC BY. Our dedicated Copyright for Researchers guide goes into Creative Commons licensing in more detail. 

Data Management Plan

By this stage in the Research Lifecycle, you should already have a data management plan (DMP) in place with lots of information around how you will be storing your research information, where you will be storing it, and what you will do with it once your research project has finished. If you have not included these detail, now is the time. Check out the Office of Scholarly Communication's guidance on DMPs.

Storing your data

Backing up and storing your data for the short-term, medium-term and long-term can be complex, especially when you move beyond external hard drives and need to start looking at options involving secure servers. The University has an institutional repository called Apollo and storing your data here might be the long-term solution that you're looking for. For more information about if Apollo is the right match for you, or if another repository might be better, visit the Office of Scholarly Communication data repository guidance pages. They also have advice about the short-to-medium term stages too.

Using Symplectic

Symplectic Elements is the University's information management system that helps you upload data and other research outputs into the University's Apollo repository. It should be fairly simple to use but can sometimes do things you were not expecting. If you need to arrange some time to sit with a member of the School of Biological Sciences Libraries team, you can email us. Or get in touch with the Office of Scholarly Communication who help manage Apollo. 

Writing for publication

Getting your writing style right for a dissertation, article or some other piece of work can be a challenge and takes a lot of practice. The University's Researcher Development Programme has a wide range of writing-related courses available to help you hone your own style. 

Not sure where to publish?

Deciding on where to publish can require thinking about many different criteria, many of which will be very specific to you and your area of research. Depending on your funder, you may need to publish with someone who support Open Access to comply with their grant requirements. There are some tools that will help you compare different funder and publisher policies around Open Access and sharing your work. 

Sherpa Juliet is a tool that lets you search for a funder so you can find out what their policies are around how and where you publish. It's partner tool, Sherpa Romeo allows you to search by publisher or journal title to see what your options are if you publish with them. The Office of Scholarly Communication has links to other places where you can get useful information to help you make your choice, as well as a handy leaflet guide

What is Open Access anyway?

Open Access is the process by which research is made freely available for anyone with an internet connection to access, as opposed to locking it away behind subscription paywalls. Many research outputs can be made Open Access, from journal articles and book chapters to datasets and software. 

Check out this quick video about Open Access from the Office of Scholarly Communication. 

What about Plan S? 

Plan S is a manifesto calling for full and immediate Open Access across the research environment. While some guidance has been released around how Plan S will work, it is still uncertain at this time exactly how it will be implemented. The Office of Scholarly Communication have put together a detailed set of FAQs based on what we know at the moment. 

Protecting your copyright

Copyright comes up a lot in the research process, and especially when you're about to publish, so we've got a dedicated guide about all things copyright, Creative Commons and everything else inbetween for researchers.

Presenting your work

There are lots of different ways to present your work, from a presentation at an event to preparing a conference poster. While we can't cover all of those things in this one paragraph, there are lots of training opportunities around the University to learn presentation skills, poster design and much more! Go to the University Training Booking System to see what might be available for you.

In the meantime, watch this short video about putting together your first presentation.

Citation metrics

Knowing how many people are reading, sharing, and citing your research can be a really useful indicator of how much of an impact your work is making. However, some metrics are more reliable than others so knowing which ones to rely on, and which ones to ignore, can be a bit of a minefield. As everyone will be looking for metrics to tell them different things, we would suggest booking in a citation metrics 1-2-1 with a member of the Biological Sciences Libraries team and we can go through your needs with you. 

Alternative metrics

Alternative metrics (sometimes referred to as altmetrics) are non-traditional metrics that complement the more traditional citation-focused metrics. If you want to see who is talking about your research paper on Twitter, or if a policy paper has included you as a key reference, then these data could help. As with citation metrics, everyone's needs are slightly different so book in an altmetrics 1-2-1 with a member of the Biological Sciences libraries team and we will go through everything with you. 


DORA (or the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment) is a series of aims that looks to improve the ways in which research outputs are assessed and used in decision-making processes, such as the hiring and promotion cycle within academia. The University has signed DORA with one main discussion point being around the use (or misuse) of certain metrics to judge the quality of research. While the implementation of DORA is still being devised, the Research Strategy Office should be able to help with any questions. If you want to explore what data and metrics might exist for you as an author, you can book a author metrics 1-2-1 with a member of the Biological Sciences libraries team and we can show you the options available. 

Managing your online academic presence

There are many ways in which you can boost your online academic profile, from effective use of Twitter to share your research through to setting up an ORCID iD to make sure people connect up your work with the right name, and not someone else! Whether you are already using different online tools and want some pointers, or you're just getting started, the Biological Sciences libraries team can help you audit your online presence and help guide you through getting things exactly how you need them to be. We can advise on setting up accounts, removing old information, navigating online copyright and much more. Simply email us to set up an online academic presence 1-2-1 consultation with a member of the team. 

Research Support Contacts

In-depth research support is available from the Biological Sciences Libraries team. We will answer your queries by email, or by appointment in a mutually convenient location.


Training Opportunities

There are lots of training opportunities available for you to boost your research skills. We have included a few examples be aware that there may be departmental opportunities, as well as offerings from groups such as the Postdocs of Cambridge Society.

Biological Sciences Libraries Research Skills Series

This dedicated programme of training is delivered across the School of Biological Sciences. For more information about what sessions are available, visit the Research Skills Series guide. The Biological Sciences Libraries Team also offers 1-2-1 consultation opportunities if you wish to talk to someone in a more focused way about your research needs. You can simply email the team to set this up:

Cambridge University Libraries

Cambridge University Libraries offer a wide range of training opportunities, from dedicated sessions tailored to a specific discipline or field, through to programmes that cover topics relevant to all working in the sciences. Have a look at the Cambridge University Libraries training page to see what is coming up soon. 

Researcher Development 

The Researcher Development Team offers training based around the Cambridge Researcher Development Framework so you can find sessions which will help you develop your skills and become a well-rounded researcher. Take a look at the Research Development's timetable to see what you might like to learn. 


Need some training dedicated to coding, statistical analysis or something a bit more specialised? The Bioinformatics team will be able to help with their range of undergraduate and postgraduate training opportunities

University Information Services (UIS)

If you're looking for training to help you with specialist software or other tech solutions then UIS might have the session for you. Have a look at their timetable to see what opportunities might suit your needs. 

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