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Allopathic Medicine: NSU MD Library Guide: Researching & EBM

An instructional pathfinder to researching for Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine

Search other recommended databases

Your Liaison Librarian also recommends:

For a more comprehensive list of available library subscription databases, please see the 2 links to all HPD and NSU databases below.

Wolfram/Alpha Search

My Folder

Every database has this option:

Setup an Account or Folder on each database you search.

  • 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 to create your account.

PubMed:

  • Choose My NCBI to create your account.

What about searching for psychological, sociological, legal or economical aspects of a topic?

1. Try using one of the Brainstorming visual aids to help map your topic.

2. Use NSU Databases to find articles related to your subject such as Education or Psychology databases.

EndNote

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.

Preparing to Search

Once you have selected a topic and reviewed general resources, you must decide what exactly interests you most about your topic.  For example, you may have chosen globalization as a topic, but when you run a search for globalization in the Library databases, you get over 12,000 results! In a situation like this you will need to narrow your search. What about globalization interests you? Try adding some keywords to globalization to come up with a smaller, more manageable, set of search results. You may also find that your research topic is much too narrow, or focused. Trying to look for articles about the effects of globalization on outsourced employees living in Hyderabad, India, will more than likely return zero results. In this situation you need to broaden your topic by taking away some keywords or being less specific about your research topic.

globalization = too broad
globalization on outsourced employees living in Hyderabad, India = too narrow
globalization on outsourced employees = manageable topic

As mentioned above, it’s important to choose a topic that is not too narrow or too broad. It is also helpful to select a topic where you can effectively explore relationships, i.e., globalization and human rights. Try forming your keywords into a question. Using the example of globalization and human rights, you may come up with the following: Is there a relationship between globalization and the human rights of workers from local host countries? By posing your research topic as a question, the resources you will need become clear.

keywords = globalization, human rights, outsourced employees
research question = Is there a relationship between globalization and the human rights of workers from local host countries?

As you continue searching, refine your search by adding or combining different key words that further explore your topic. You may find you need to modify your question. Carefully read and evaluate scholarly research articles to determine their suitability and validity. Use information from selected articles to form a response to your question. Your conclusions can then serve as your hypothesis/thesis statement that will direct your paper. Using the above example, we might end up with the following hypothesis: If human rights are negatively affected by globalization, then a universal code of human rights may positively affect the rights of workers in local host countries.

Understanding how to narrow or broaden your topic as well as learning how to turn your topic from a research question into a hypothesis statement can be helpful. It’s not only important to recognize when these steps need to occur, but it’s important to know what to do to carry out these steps. Once you have developed a hypothesis/thesis statement, you will want to begin thinking about the type of information you need and the best approach to finding it.

The sub-pages in this section will describe techniques for searching in the Library's databases.

Subject Searching vs Keyword Searching

Subject searching:

  • Searches by topic or subject

  • In PubMed & MEDLINE it's called MeSH.  In Embase it's Emtree, and CINAHL uses CINAHL Headings, but they all work pretty much the same
    • ​Each article is cataloged according to what it is about, and
    • the same term is used every time, no matter what words the author used, so that
    • you don't need to think of all the synonyms
  • Precise searching - fewer off topic results

Keyword searching (the default in most databases) :

  • Search terms in the article title or abstract
  • Only looks to see if a word is found, not at the meaning or context
  • You'll need to try different variations and synonyms
  • Likely to return more off-topic results
  • Broader searching - works well for topics that don't have MeSH (etc.) terms yet
  • Useful for finding very new articles that haven't been cataloged yet.

​Try mixing both approaches.

Getting Started...

Give your self plenty of time - in depth searching is not the same as googling 

 

To Find:

  • Articles:
    • Search HPD Library databases online
    • Use the Full Text Finder if you have a citation and need to get the full text. (Instructions)

      ---Use the HPD Library Catalog to locate print and e-journals

Plan your strategy:

Read background information to find search terms:

  • Look up your topic in a medical dictionary, UpToDate,  or use the Credo Reference database and its concept mapping feature to find search terms
  • Find a book, ebook or journal with background information using the HPD Library Catalog
  • Browse the HPD Library book shelves by call number to find information about your subject

Identify search terms:

  • Have a clear idea of the clinical question that you want to answer, using the PICO method or similar methods 
  • Plan a keyword search OR
  • Plan a MeSH (subject) search or any combo

Librarian tips:

  • Use one word for each search box for databases that offer multiple boxes
  • Enter dental or dent* into one of the search boxes if you're getting too many non-dental results (like cochlear implants) 
  • Try truncation.  For example: dent* will look for all keywords starting with dent - like dental, dentistry, dentist, dentifrice...)
  • Phrase searching by putting words in quotes, such as "dental implants," works in some databases, but not in others

Selecting your articles:

  • Look at the subjects listed for each article as well as the article titles to make your selection
  • Use the subjects from helpful articles to find additional 
  • Articles may not "match" your search; they will contain elements of what you need that you will later combine
  • Choose articles based on how they apply to your topic instead of matching your topic exactly - you rarely find the 'perfect' article

Ask your librarian for help at the BEGINNING of the research process!

Use MeSH to Build a Better PubMed Query

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.

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, click on the subheading. Example: Dentist-Patient Relations/ Informed Consent - click on Informed Consent

4. Forgetting to save searches that produce great results for use later

  • 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've done some background searching.

  • 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

Learn to read a Citation:

Sample:

J Prosthet Dent. 2010 May;103(5):321-2.
Antimicrobial filling of implant cavities.
Kern M, Harder S.

Journal title:  Journal of prosthetic dentistry
(look up the abbreviation in PubMed Journals database)

Date: May 2010

Volume: 103

Issue: 5

Pages: 321-322

Authors: Kern M and Harder S

Article title: Antimicrobial filling of implant cavities

Submit your NSU Thesis - Instructions

Literature Review

What's a Literature Review? 

A literature review (or lit review, for short) is an in-depth critical analysis of published scholarly research related to a specific topic. Published scholarly research (the "literature") may include journal articles, books, book chapters, dissertations and thesis, or conference proceedings. 

A solid lit review must:

  • be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you're developing
  • synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known
  • identify areas of controversy in the literature
  • formulate questions that need further research

Please refer to the NSU Literature Guide for additional  support.

Peer Review

Articles that are published in peer-reviewed or refereed journals are recognized as scholarly contributions to their academic or medical field. You can identify peer-reviewed journals by searching for the journal title in Ulrich's Periodical Directory.

Links on Qualitative Research

Finding Dissertations

Martin and Gail Press HPD Library Catalog

Search the HPD Library Collection for Books, eBooks, Print Journals:
Search the e-Book Collection only:

Brainstorming & Concept mapping

Brainstorming your topic will give you more search term ideas.

Here are 5 visual aids to concept mapping:

Browse the Book Shelves by Subject

Grey Literature

Grey literature is literature produced by government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers. Therefore, grey literature can at times be difficult to identify and obtain. It includes theses and dissertations, conference papers and proceedings, research reports, government documents, technical notes and specifications, proposals, data compilations, etc. Often grey literature does not have an international standard book number (ISBN) or an international standard serial number (ISSN).

It is crucial to note where the term “grey literature” derives from. Grey literature comes from the uncertainty of the status of this information. Grey literature is essentially any document that has not gone through peer review for publication. You may be questioning what is the benefit of looking at this type of literature if it is not peer reviewed? The benefit is that grey literature can be published much more quickly since it does not have to be subjected to the lengthy peer-review process. As a result, in cases where there may not be much information on a topic in peer-reviewed research, grey literature may prove a very valuable source of information. Learn more about Grey Literature here:

Scholarly Resarch

Once you have found a research topic of interest and developed a hypothesis, you are ready to begin conducting scholarly research. Through your research, you will be exploring and addressing the relationships between the variables in your hypothesis. During the course of your research, you may find information that contradicts your research statement. When this happens, you will want to try to find more information that confirms or denies the contradictory information.

You may also determine that your original research question needs to be revised. In this case, you can identify new concepts through database searches, further examine the relationship between the concepts, and review your search strategy to incorporate these new concepts.

It may also be helpful to also maintain a log of previous database search results based on different search methods and modify them accordingly. Once you have answered your initial research question, you should not stop your research before determining if the original information need has been satisfied or if additional information is needed.

Primary Research

Primary resources contain first-hand information, meaning that you are reading the author’s own account on a specific topic or event that s/he participated in. Examples of primary resources include scholarly research articles, books, and diaries. Primary sources such as research articles often do not explain terminology and theoretical principles in detail. Thus, readers of primary scholarly research should have foundational knowledge of the subject area. Use primary resources to obtain a first-hand account to an actual event and identify original research done in a field. For many of your papers, use of primary resources will be a requirement.

Examples of a primary source are:

  • Original documents such as diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, records, eyewitness accounts, autobiographies
  • Empirical scholarly works such as research articles, clinical reports, case studies, dissertations
  • Creative works such as poetry, music, video, photography

How to locate primary research in NCU Library:

  1. From the Library's homepage, begin your search in Roadrunner Search or select a subject-specific database from the A-Z Databases.
  2. Use the Scholarly/Peer-Reviewed Journal limiter to narrow your search to journal articles.
  3. Once you have a set of search results, remember to look for articles where the author has conducted original research. A primary research article will include a literature review, methodology, population  or set sample, test or measurement, discussion of findings and usually future research directions.

Secondary Research

econdary sources describe, summarize, or discuss information or details originally presented in another source; meaning the author, in most cases, did not participate in the event. This type of source is written for a broad audience and will include definitions of discipline specific terms, history relating to the topic, significant theories and principles, and summaries of major studies/events as related to the topic. Use secondary sources to obtain an overview of a topic and/or identify primary resources. Refrain from including such resources in an annotated bibliography for doctoral level work unless there is a good reason.

Examples of a secondary source are:

  • Publications such as textbooks, magazine articles, book reviews, commentaries, encyclopedias, almanacs

Locate secondary resources in NCU Library within the following databases:

  • Annual Reviews (scholarly article reviews)
  • Credo Reference (encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks & more)
  • Ebook Central (ebooks)
  • ProQuest (book reviews, bibliographies, literature reviews & more )
  • SAGE Reference Methods, SAGE Knowledge & SAGE Navigator (handbooks, encyclopedias, major works, debates & more)
  • Most other Library databases include secondary sources.