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Medical Research Guide

Research Process Guide

Before you start......

Make sure you understand what  information you need and why you need it! All medical literature falls into one of two broad types:

1.  Background Information is general information you need to understand a topic. For example, if you encounter a patient with psoriatic arthritis and know little about the topic, you would need sources of background information. This is the overview information you will find in textbooks and sources such as Clinical Key and AccessMedicine.You can also find general overviews of conditions in DynaMed and Essential Evidence Plus.

2.  Foreground information is the specific information that will apply to a patient or a medical condition you are trying to research. Foreground information focuses on a specific aspect of the topic and is generally articulated as a clinical question. This information is usually found in medical journals. Here's an example of a foreground question: "How effective is treatment with secukinumab for middle-aged female patients?"

Literature Searching

Searching the medical literature for relevant information to your research topic is foundational to the success of your project. Effective literature searching is a varied and broad topic, but PubMed is currently the best place to start. Here is a link to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed tutorials.  

Important!   Make sure that you always access PubMed from the medical library's home page. Doing this allows you to see what Campbell owns and usually leads to full text. To see if Campbell owns an article, click the title of the article and look for a blue box with yellow lettering at the right of the page. This icon indicates that the article is available through Campbell. 

Another method for locating full text articles quickly is to use ClinicalKey. It contains hundreds of current full-text journal articles.


"I can't get to the articles I need! What should I do?"

Don't worry if you cannot reach an article. The medical library can get it for you--usually within a day or two. Simply email the citation (or list of citations) to the medical library and we will get it for you.

Finding Information