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Guide to literature searching

The amount of biomedical literature is huge. In 2016, 869 666 citations were added to Medline alone  (US  NLM). How do you find the literature you want in such a large collection? This guide provides an introduction on how to search for what you want.

Beginners may want to try the 5 Step Basic or 8 Step Quick search instructions on the left hand tabs.

For people wishing to do a more thorough or systematic search, read on....


The Basics

Firstly, we recommend searching within established databases. While Google and other search engines are great for many kinds of information, they do not perform well for medical literature. Reasons for this include:

  • reliable literature is "drowned out" by commercial information, personal opinion and questionable sources
  • Authoritative literature is often behind paywalls and will not be found.
  • Searches are not systematic and may not be repeatable over time and between users.

Commonly used databases include Medline, Pubmed and Embase. There are also databases with emphasis on certain areas such as PsycINFO for psychiatry and mental health or Emcare for nursing. The choice of database depends on your topic.

See the Medical and Health Database tab for a description of these and others. To access databases see the Library Databases sidebar or this link.


Using the Library Website

From the library webpage select Popular databases or All databases and choose from the list. Next select your institution - this ensures you get full access to your institutions subscriptions.

Onsite computers do not require any validation. If you are offsite or on a mobile device,  then you will need to sign in using your library number.

Note. Search the catalogue searches books and ebooks, not original articles. Find an article is best suited to finding known articles. It will search for articles but in a very basic way.