In this age of superb Internet connectivity, online resources are becoming more and more important for all professions, including scientists. In contrast to physical libraries, online resources are much more convenient to access and browse, as long as you have an Internet account. Having been a researcher for quite a number of years, I have learnt to take considerable advantage of these cyberspace resources and they have proved to be immensely useful for me. Here, I would like to share with readers, in particular busy R&D scientists, seven great Web sites not to be missed.

I first bounced into iProtocol--an innovative Web-based protocol database for the biomedical research community--when I was searching for a protocol for Taq-polymerase catalyzed cycle sequencing using fluorescent-labeled dye terminator reactions. The protocols are very well organized and professionally presented, and the site even includes a troubleshooting section that describes possible problems and solutions so thoroughly that even novices would have no problem following them. To date, iProtocol has a record of more than 300 experimental protocols in animal studies, biochemistry, bioengineering, bioinformatics, cell biology, biophysics, molecular biology, and genetics. iProtocol's standardized format makes it a convenient place for researchers to search and share experimental protocols.

Having trouble getting your experiments to work? Visit BioWWW.net for a ready DIY solution. BioWWW.net offers the most sensible bench work trouble-shooting resources for bioresearchers. At present, it has more than 3000 such articles in its records. Its many references are mostly gathered from public bio-newsgroups and academic Web sites, and links to the original sources are retained. Apart from the troubleshooting resources, BioWWW.net also offers a variety of protocols in molecular biology, cell biology, immunology, genetics, and biochemistry. The site is highly dynamic and interactive. Even if you can't find an answer to your query, you can always post a question directly on the site and wait for a response.

Are you all lost on where to procure that unusual reagent you need so badly? Don't worry, LabVelocity may have an answer for you. Its research link offers almost seamless access to a whole range of scientific products and related information, protocols, interactive tools and calculators, and practical references and literature. With its sophisticated attribute-based product search engine, a huge database of scientific products, protocols, and reference materials, LabVelocity is an invaluable one-stop shop for scientists who want accelerated information without even stepping out of the lab.

Do you need help in determining or confirming the chemical structure of your new compound? Go to ChemWeb.com, a unique resource for those in research chemistry, the chemicals industries, and related disciplines. ChemWeb.com offers a wide range of information, including a complete reactive chemical hazards database that provides information on potential reaction hazards associated with chemical compounds or reaction systems. Specialized tools allow structure-based searching on a single screen and a computational chemistry toolkit allows the user to draw a 3D chemical structure, submit it to a chemical calculation engine, and visualize the resulting 3D structure in their browser.

If you are into genomics, then the TIGR Database maintained by The Institute for Genomic Research in the United States is for you. Here you will find a collection of databases containing DNA and protein sequence, gene expression, cellular role, protein family, and taxonomic data for microbes, plants, and humans. Anonymous FTP access to sequence data is provided, and if you ever need a clone from any completed and published genomes, links are there to lead you to authorized distributors, ATCC, a global nonprofit bioresource center, and commercial operator Research Genetics.

For those of you working on avant-garde proteomics projects, don't miss the incredible resources at the ExPASy (Expert Protein Analysis System) proteomics server of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics. Sequence and proteomics analytical tools are aplenty here. These tools include the Sulfinator that predicts tyrosine sulfation sites in protein sequences and the PeptideCutter that predicts potential protease and chemical cleavage sites in a test protein sequence. And yes, it can display the query sequence with the possible cleavage sites mapped on it, together with a table of cleavage site positions. Besides these tools, there is also a comprehensive sequence database you can bank on anytime.

Finally, all those who, like me, are intimidated by statistics can get a free SPSS for Windows (one of the most common statistics software packages) lesson at SPSS Tutorials. You need no prior knowledge of SPSS, as the online tutorial takes the novice through the fundamentals to get started in data-crunching. However, you do need a fast Internet connection. Apart from that, the site offers techniques for all levels of SPSS user and provides links to many useful resources. Name any test you want--analysis of variance using matrix algebra, hierarchical multiple regression analysis, cross-tabulations and measure of associations, or whatever--and the chances are that there is some useful information for you here. The site also provides links to textbooks that may be very handy for those taking the tutorials. So, before you give up on the analysis of your valuable data, check out this site. It may not be as daunting as you imagined.