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Pharmacy: Research Tips

An instructional pathfinder for HPD College of Pharmacy students and faculty

Option 1: Power Search for articles in EBSCOhost

Power Search multiple databases simultaneously in EBSCO :

Choose these databases and select Continue-

  • Biomedical Reference Center
  • CINAHL Complete
  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials
  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
  • Cochrane Methodology Register
  • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects
  • International Pharmaceutical Abstracts
  • MEDLINE (PubMed)
  • Nursing & Allied Health Collection

You may also limit your results:

  • Date range
  • Peer-reviewed (Scholarly) articles
  • Other- limits are listed below the search boxes in same window.

Option 2: more recommended databases

Recommended for pharmacy research:

Brainstorming & Concept mapping

Need a topic? 5 visual aids :


Browse the Book Shelves by Subject

Learn to read a Citation:

Cite your Sources

Download the EndNote program

Writing and Style Guides

EndNote Tutorials

Impact Factor: Journal Citation Reports


EndNote is a software application that is free to all NSU students, faculty and staff.

Why use Endnote?

  • Import your references directly into Endnote from the library's databases
  • Store and organize your references in Endnote
  • Insert citations from Endnote into a word document as you write
  • Format your citations and bibliographies using a variety of bibliographic styles

How to download EndNote.

Search Strategy Basics

PLAN your strategy:


Develop a clear research question:

  • Use a PICO (Population, intervention, Comparison/Control, Outcome) question to focus your research and identify the main concepts. PICO questions are an essential first step in Evidence Based Medicine.  

Identify search terms:

  • Plan a keyword search, 
  • Plan a MeSH search
  • Combine MeSH and keyword terms


  • Use one word for each search box in databases that offer multiple boxes
  • Try searching for phrases in quotes -  "over the counter" This works in some databases, but not others. 
  • Use truncation (Example: pharm* will look for keywords such as pharmacy AND pharmaceutical AND pharmacist)
  • Avoid searching terms such as "effect of" or "cause of" 
  • Look at the tree structure of MeSH terms to see if a more general or more specific term might be more useful

Selecting your articles:

  • Look at the Subjects listed for each article as well as the article titles to make your selection
  • Articles will not "match" your search; they will contain elements of what you need that you will later compile
  • Choose articles based on how they apply to your topic instead of matching your topic exactly

 Ask your Liaison Librarian for help at the BEGINNING of the research process!

Tutorial - Searching Drugs or Chemicals in PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

This tutorial provides an excellent set of tips to help you effectively search PubMed for drugs, chemicals, and other substances.

Use MeSH to Build a Better PubMed Query

Keyword vs. MeSH Search Terms

MeSH searching

  • Medical Subject Headings
  • National Library of Medicine's (NLM) controlled vocabulary for indexing PubMed articles
  • Precise searching
  • Finds what the article is about

Keyword searching (the default most databases)

  • Search terms in the article title or abstract
  • Article may or may not be about your topic - only looks for the presence of the terms
  • Broader searching- works well for topics not well-indexed in PubMed
  • Results can be narrowed using MeSH terms

To find MeSH terms:

  • Go to PubMed homepage
  • Use the drop-down menu at the top left OR the link in the bottom right of the window to search the MeSH database.
  • Once you locate your term on the MeSH hierarchy, check the box next to it and then use the drop down menu above the results to "Send To the Search Box with AND." You can then do a second search for another MeSH term and combine these terms in the search box. The video above - Use MeSH to Build a Better PubMed Query - demonstrates how to do this.

Embase Tutorials



Embase is another excellent resource for finding research on biomedical topics.  

Designing a Drug & Disease Search in Embase:

Refining a Search in Embase:

Embase PICO Question Search

For more Embase videos and guides - see the Embase Support pages

Using CINAHL Subject Headings

Searching with Ovid MEDLINE

Psych Tests for Research

5 Common researching mistakes

1. Looking for ARTICLE titles that exactly match your topic.

  • You will miss important articles
  • Look at the SUBJECTS listed for your article
  • Articles related to your topic will have data you can use

2. Search terms are too narrow or too broad.

  • If your result list is too short, try broadening your topic. For example: change from Invisalign to dental appliances
  • If your result list is over 1,000 articles, limit your search by date, subject or other factors

3. Missing citation pearls.

  • If you find an excellent article, select the author or subject links to find more like it.
  • If a subject link has a slash indicating a subject heading and its subheading matches your topic, click on the subheading.
  • Example: Dentist-Patient Relations/ Informed Consent - click on Informed Consent

4. Forgetting to save searches that produce great results in Your Folder.

  • You can rerun your searches and uncover newer articles during your research time period
  • You may change the direction of your search and need to remember how you found your original articles

5. Keep your topic general until you have performed the research.

  • It is easier to pick your points after seeing what information exists in the literature
  • If you narrow your topic before researching too much, you may have difficulty finding the information

New FDA drugs

Grey Literature

What is Grey Literature?

  • Theses and dissertations
  • Conference proceedings and abstracts
  • Newsletters
  • Research reports (completed and uncompleted)
  • Technical specifications, standards, and annual reports
  • Usually NOT Peer-Reviewed

BioMed Central, PubMed Central

Finding Journal Impact Factors & Peer Reviewed Status

To find the impact factor  or rank of a journal, look it up in Journal Citation Reports

To see if a journal is peer reviewed, use Ulrichsweb.  Ulrich's uses the synonym 'refereed' for peer-reviewed journals

To find publisher, publishing frequency and other information about a journal look it up in  the National Library of Medicine Journal listings

Use INSTEAD of Wikipedia


HPD Plagiarism and Copright Guide

Poster Help

Great website on creating a Poster by Fred Stoss, U of Buffalo Libraries includes these resources:

PowerPoint templates download or another site

Most cork boards measure 96 in. X 48 in. with a 1.5 inch wooden frame.

PowerPoint Presentations- how to improve your Poster presentation

Find an Martin and Gail Press HPD Library eJournal

  • Type the full name of the JOURNAL (no abbreviations!)
  • Do not enter an article title

Finding Dissertations

Peer Review

  • Peer-reviewed
  • Refereed
  • Scholarly

Journals recognized as scholarly by their academic or medical peers

Identify peer-reviewed journals by searching for the journal title in Ulrich's Periodical Directory.

My Folder

Every database has an option to setup an Account or Folder.

Create an account or register

  • Hint: use your nova email username, password for this account to help you remember the login information
  • Add articles to your folder
  • Retrieve later from any computer
  • Save your searches


EBSCOhost databases:

  • Choose Sign In
  • Create new account.


  • Choose My NCBI
  • Create your account.

Wolfram/Alpha Search