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Health Sciences - Basic Library Research

Where to start for library research in medicine, health, public health, nursing, and other health-related topics.

Search tips

  • Choosing the database can be as important as choosing search terms. If you don't know what to choose, look at the (i) icon for more information about the database or ask your professor or librarian for suggestions.

  • Use the Advanced Search--not only are there more options (limiting to dates, subjects, languages, types of articles, full text, etc.) but Advanced Searching usually has multiple search boxes, which make it easier to construct a good search.

  • Pay attention to vocabulary and keywords that appear in the results of your first searches. Use those keywords to modify your search. If you aren't sure about the meaning of some words, check some of our Health and Medicine dictionaries.

  • If Full text is an option, use it to start. But remember that there is more available (in print, in other databases) if you don't find what you need or you need to be more comprehensive.

Health Databases - Best Bets

Advanced Search

Advanced Searches offer more options, and usually have multiple search boxes to help you construct a better (more specific) search. Put one search term or phrase in each box. The link to Advanced Search is usually either right near the basic search box or at the top of the page.

Advanced Search in Medline has extra search features such as:

  • English Language check box
  • Human vs. Animal experiments (and even specific animals)
  • Age ranges
  • Sex (M/F)
  • Subject and Journal (subject based) subsets
  • Clinical queries limited to Therapy, Diagnosis, Prognosis, Reviews, Prediction, Qualitative, Cost, and Economics. 3 levels in each category cover wide range (high sensitivity), narrow accuracy (high specificity), and mid-range (best balance).
  • Publication Types include various types of research studies, such as clinical trials, case reports, historical studies, and meta-analysis studies, educational items, reports, and many more.

Advanced Search in CINAHL includes:

  • English Language
  • Research Article
  • Clinical queries (see above) for Therapy, Prognosis, Review, Qualitative, and Causation
  • Nurse authors
  • Patient groups such as age groups, sex, pregnancy, and in- and out-patient
  • Subject groups by journal or special topic
  • Publication types such as evidence based, clinical trial, review, continuing education, and many more.

How to read an academic article

Intimidated by long, clinical or research articles? Don't be! Have a look at this tutorial on how to read a science research article. Hint: you don't have to read the whole thing!