Medical Research in the LRC
Searching medical literature is a necessary skill that you will need for many reasons. Whether you have to write a research paper, meet a grant deadline, find background information on clinical topics, or make informed clinical decisions, you will need to know how information is organized before you can retrieve, evaluate, and apply the knowledge gained.
Information can be found in books (print or electronic), scholarly journal articles in print or in electronic format, databases (such as Up-to-Date or MD Consult), and websites (free or fee-based).
The first step in finding information is phrasing your search as a question.
- Decide what kind of information you need.
- Do you need a quick answer that could be found in a handbook, textbook, or dictionary?
- Do you need several scholarly journal articles for in-depth research?
- Do you need information that can be found in popular journals or newspaper articles?
- Do you need statistics?
- Decide how much information you need.
- Are you working on a dissertation, where several scholarly articles will be needed?
- What level of evidence do you require?
- Do you need a quick fact or definition or an in-depth literature review?
- Decide whether you are looking for biomedical/clinical information, psychosocial aspects, policy, bioethics or historical information?
Once you have decided this information, you are ready to begin searching for books or journal articles.
In order to find whether or not the LRC owns a book, you will need to check the catalog. The LRC Catalog is available online and can be accessed from the LRC home page, or from the links at the top of the LRC's web pages.
You can search the catalog by title, author, subject, words in title, and call number.
- When searching the catalog by author, type in the author's last name first.
- When searching for book titles, arlicles such as a, an, and the should be ignored.
- Journal titles can be searched in the catalog by using the whole title or the National Library of Medicine abbrevation. JAMA or Journal of the American Medical Association can be searched as:
- Journal of the American Medical Association
Anatomy of a catalog page
The catalog page listed below shows the bibliographic information for the item. If the status section is empty, you will be able to find the material at the location porvided. If the status section has a due date, you can place a hold on the item so that you will be notified when the material is returned.
Note that the item listed below has a call number on the top of the record. Make note of the call number and go to the assigned location.
Notice that the item has a list of subject headings at the bottom of the record. You can use these headings to find other items that deal with this topic. By clicking on the link for the subject heading "Transcultural Nursing", I get a list of items with the same subject heading.
If you are searching for a particular book that is not available from the LRC, you may request that we borrow it for you from another library via materials request by filling out the materials request form. Please allow two weeks for delivery of the material.
Finding Journal Articles
Journal titles appear in the LRC catalog. However in order to find journal articles, you will need an Index or a Database. to find individual articles. Please note: Most databases and indexes contain citations to articles on a specific topic or by a certain author; they do not contain the full-text of the article. PubMed allows you to link to most of the LRC's electronic journal holdings (via LinkOut), CINHAL and PsychInfo also allow you to link to some full-text articles, but not all citations have full-text links.
The index that you use will depend on your topic. Below is a partial of databases that could be used for medical research.
MEDLINE is the world's largest database of bibliographic citations produced by the National Library of Medicine. It contains over 15,000,000 biomedical journal citations. MEDLINE holdings span 1950 to the present. The database is constantly updated. It can be searched through PubMed (with links to full-text holdings)RCS login required or OVID MEDLINERCS login required. MEDLINE employs the MeSH thesaurus which is a controlled vocabulary.
One good way of finding other articles on your topic is by looking at the subject headings used for an article that is especially pertinent to your topic. In PubMed, the Citation view displays the MeSH vocabulary used to index the article. MeSH headings that are starred are considered Major headings.
Another PubMed feature that you can use is the Related Articles link that will retrieve a pre-calculated set of PubMed citations that are closely related to your selected article. The related articles will be displayed in ranked order from most to least relevant, with the linked from citation displayed first.
PsycINFO RCS Login Required is a database of bibliographic citations that indexes journals and books in the fields of psychology, behavior (including social), clinical and cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. It is compiled by the American Psychological Association. The LRC's PsycINFO journal index spans 1887 to the present. It is searchable by the using the PsychInfo thesaurus, keywords, author or title.
CINAHL RCS Login Required is a database of bibliographic citations indexing professional literature in nursing and allied health sciences. It includes nearly all English-language nursing journals, fourteen journals covering allied health, selected journals in biomedicine and consumer health, healthcare books, nursing dissertations, conference proceedings, standards of practice and education software. CINAHL is compiled by CINALH Informations Systems. CINAHL citations span from 1982 to the present.
Current Contents Connect RCS Login Required(Use the drop down box at the top of the screen to choose Current Contents Connect.)is a database that indexes journals in several disciplines, including separate sections for Clinical Medicine and Life Sciences. This database does not use a controlled vocabulary, so remember to use truncation and alternate terms when searching in this database.
When searching any database, it is always good practice to determine whether to use a controlled vocabulary (MeSH, or a thesaurus as in PsychInfo) or if the database relies only on textword or keyword indexing (Current Contents Connect). See the LRC guide Textword Searching vs. Controlled Vocabulary for more on this topic.
For further information, contact the Reference Librarian. Last Updated:7/5/06