Video: How to find medical research and literature
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Hello everyone! It's Megan from Kenhub here, and in today's tutorial, I'll be giving you some hints and tips on how to find medical research and literature. Today, we have quick and easy access ... Read more
Hello everyone! It's Megan from Kenhub here, and in today's tutorial, I'll be giving you some hints and tips on how to find medical research and literature.
Today, we have quick and easy access to a wealth of medical information with just a click of a mouse. In the past, you'd likely turn to Google or Wikipedia when you wanted to look up information that you didn't have time to spend rifling through multiple textbooks to find. Such platforms can occasionally be useful for getting an overview of a subject before moving on to other more accurate, reliable and relevant sources of medical literature. The question is, how do we find more accurate, reliable and relevant sources?
Don't worry, Kenhub has your back.
In this video, we're going to be spilling our top tips on where to look, how to look, and some common mistakes to avoid along the way. Ready? Great! Then let's get started.
Of course, before you begin any search, you should have a good idea of what exactly you're searching for. It's important that you're very clear on what your question is, what answer you're trying to find, and what information will provide you with that answer. So how do you determine your search criteria?
Well, first, you'll need to analyze your question. What are the key component parts? Think about keywords within your question that you could use as search terms as well as synonyms and variations of the term you search for. The information you gain from doing this can help to provide you with a clearer focus by filtering out irrelevant details. This is important as there's a lot of information out there and it could be easy to get sidetracked.
Additionally, try to avoid using general terms as this may result in too many hits - a large fraction of which are often useless. On the other hand, if you use terms that are too specific, this may also lead to missing out on important information that may be related to your topic.
Searching is a cyclical process. As you carry out your search and analyze your results, you may find new keywords, terms or aspects of your search that you weren't previously aware of and you can refine and repeat your search to include these new aspects of information.
To get started, some first reference orientation from sources such as encyclopedias, virtual subject gateways, subject-specific information on library shelves, and other reference works can help you get familiar with the topic before you begin looking into more specific elements of your subject matter.
In addition, a lot of larger academic libraries provide consulting services from subject librarians that can help you find subject-specific information. Using search limits allows you to filter your results which will help you identify the information most relevant to your specific question. Here are some common search limits that can inform the type of research your search delivers.
The first of these is the publication date. Usually if you're using scientific research to answer your question or back up your claim, more recently published research is highly regarded as it reflects up-to-date findings in the area the research has conducted into. However, a historical perspective may be useful if you are, for example, looking to find the initial research in which a particular theory or protocol originated. Perhaps, you'll use a mixture of old and new research. Your personal research aims will inform the publication dates you'll focus on finding research within.
Another important factor is patient characteristics. This refers to variables such as age, sex, environment, and type of condition. Filtering your search depending on any one of these variables will have a huge influence on the type of research you consequently find, and most importantly, the implications of the research. For example, if a study was conducted using exclusively male subjects, how might the results differ if the same experiment was conducted on female subjects?
Additionally, the geography of the research is important as the findings may be location-specific, and therefore, not applicable or useful for your particular research. For example, was the research conducted in a U.K. population only or was it done on Southeast Asians? And how might this affect the research results?
Lastly, the study type can provide clues to the reliability and validity of the study's findings. The type of studies most appropriate to your research depends once again on the question you're looking to answer. Randomized control trials or RCTs, for short, are considered to be the gold standard in scientific research because they're thought to have a low risk of false causality claims and experimental bias.
Meta-analyses are great for delivering an overview of all the research conducted into a specific subject area whilst case studies can provide interesting information about unusual cases within a population. Case studies are less fairly used in medical science as they do not give us useful information about the population as a whole.
Before we take a look at the best places to find medical information and literature, let us first look at the different sources you'll likely come across in your search. Primary and secondary sources refer to two classes of information that differ in the degree to which the author is removed from the findings they described.
A primary source provides direct or first-hand evidence about a topic by the person who investigated it. Essentially, it's a raw material of the research process - for example, a scientific paper documenting a researcher's experiment. A secondary source, on the other hand, interprets, assigns value to, and draws conclusions about the information presented within primary sources of information. This would include mediums such as books, newspaper articles, and critical reviews. Got it? Great!
Now, let's take a look at the different platforms you can use to find medical information and literature. Often, access to certain medical information or literature may not be obtainable through regular search engines. For example, some important databases may only be available locally within the intranets of respective universities. The good news is there exist databases that can be accessed for free such as DEPATISnet and Espacenet, which offer access to medical information not published elsewhere.
Other research paper databases include PubMed, Cochrane library, and Google Scholar. Google Scholar cross-references research articles found on sites like PubMed with Google's own regular webpages. Sometimes, the cross-referencing causes the database to return irrelevant websites, books, or legal articles; however, generally speaking, Google Scholar makes it easier to access good quality free full text articles.
In some cases, you may be asked for a log-in information or a credit information to access journals on certain databases. In other cases, the journal you're looking for may only be available in printed form in the library holdings. In this case, the use of linking services or link resolver may be used to find the full text.
If you're unable to find what you're looking for from research papers alone, other forms of respected evidence include publications on clinical guidelines such as those from the organization NICE, monographs from organizations like the World Health Organization or the British National Formulary, and evidenced-based textbooks. However, just because information is printed in a book doesn't necessarily mean it's reliable. Always use textbooks that are used to teach accredited courses or degrees or that are written by respected authors who work in the field that their book relates to - for instance, as a university professor or clinical specialist.
If you're using books as an information source, always be mindful to check the author is qualified to write on the subject, that the information within it is up to date, and that it's supported by valid scientific references.
New information, new discoveries, and new papers are published every day. It's therefore important that you'd be open to change, differing opinions on a subject matter, practice patience with regards to your search and your findings, and also be aware that the information you'll find has been created by somebody with a certain purpose in mind.
A great way to keep your finger on the pulse with new publications is by browsing the contents of journals, reading subject-specific mailing lists, following other researchers on social media or even reading subject-specific weblogs. For example, a good English language weblog to keep your eye on is gobbledygook.
Well, folks, that concludes our video. These pointers are just the tip of the iceberg, but we hope you finish watching this feeling more confident about where and how to find medical information and literature. If you're feeling stuck, don't forget that you can always find us over at www.kenhub.com along with hundreds of anatomical illustrations, articles, quizzes, and videos.
Thanks for watching and see you next time.