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BMD 202: Survey of Biomedical Sciences Literature

Introduction

As we discussed last week, articles - especially scholarly, peer-reviewed articles - are a critical type of information in biomedical science fields. This next module will introduce you to library databases that can help you find these types of articles. (In this class, I will use the term "database" to refer to databases available through the library's website and "search engines" to refer to sites such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.)

Databases index and allow you to search thousands of journals at once. Don't take for granted the power of a database search; the speed at which you can retrieve high-quality research articles is really astounding! Lister Hill Library has over 400 electronic resources/databases. Why so many, you ask? Each database has its own subject focus and strengths. Don't worry - you will not be expected to know about all of these databases.

The goal of this next section is to get you into 2 or 3 key health sciences databases, let you explore them, practice using some of their helpful features, and gain a basic understanding of their strengths and differences.

Library Databases

Click the links below to view tutorials and additional information on these 3 key library databases.

CINAHL

Nursing & Allied Health

PubMed
biomedical/life sciences

Scopus
multidisciplinary, international

 

No database has all articles; therefore, it is a good idea to search more than one database on your topic.  This is another reason to learn to use more the one database.  Imagine the dots below are articles and the circles are databases.  As you can see, there is some overlap, but none of the databases have all articles.

 

Library Databases vs. Search Engines

The 2.5-minute video below explains the difference between library databases and search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

Boolean Operators

Before you can search a library database, it's important to first understand how to talk to a database. Telling a computer system what you want is quite different from telling a friend what you want. One of the basic set of tools used in databases are what's called "Boolean" operators or terms. (Fun fact: Boole is the last name of the guy who came up with the mathematical logic behind these terms.) It sounds scary, but it really isn't. View the 4-minute video below for a quick explanation of Boolean operators.

Search Engine Tips

When you use search engines such as Google, you are searching the "surface web" or "open web." For your Literature Search assignment you can use any non-Google Scholar search engine, such as those shown below. To make the best of your search review the search tips provided.

Don't Forget Books

Remember that books/e-books can be great resources for background information or helping you see how different topics relate to one another, especially if you are new to a topic. To find books or e-books available at the library, you'll need to search the library's catalog (searches both physical and online books).

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