Search for Articles

Identify published information from peer-reviewed publications for class assignments, thesis, grants or other projects. Conduct a database search to discover what is already known, identify gaps in knowledge, establish research methods, and more.

Describe your Topic

Develop a clear concept of the information you are seeking.  Describe the main topic as specifically as you can, then focus it by considering these factors:

  • What are the age groups, geographic locations, socio-economic considerations that you want to include?
  • Will comparisons be made with other diseases, conditions, methods?
  • What potential outcomes do you want to consider? (cost reduction, improved communication)

Think about the scope of what you need--a few recent articles from major journals or a comprehensive search of publications?  Do you need evidence-based information from clinical trials? 

If your topic is too broad or you cannot clearly define what you want, look for background information, an overview, or a few good review articles to help clarify the concepts. 

Find Background Information or Review Articles

Chapters in Major Textbooks

Review Articles

Scholarly books (search discoverE)

Search Databases

Databases such as PubMed or Web of Science are organized collections of citations of articles from peer-reviewed journals. The information  is organized to allow comprehensive searching of millions of publications, with the objective of identifying a focused list of the relevant citations.  

Select database

  • PubMed - premier biomedical database which covers clincal, public health, basic science, health care and other categories
  • EMBASE - broad biomedical coverage with more emphasis on pharmaceutical and drug literature; complements PubMed
  • Web of Science - multidisciplinary database using key word searchng and which features cited reference searching 

See Table of other biomedical databases.

Construct search statements

  • Search for concepts using key words or standard terminology (Medical Subject Headings in PubMed) 
  • Combine concepts with "and," "or," "not"
  • Use strengths or features of the database (refine results, link to related articles, saving searches, clinical queries)

See PubMed Search Tip here

Evaluate Results

When the search results appear, quickly scan titles. Read abstracts of mos relevant citations. Link to full text articles with.

If search results do not provide the expected information, search again using other terms.  Or select a different database in which to conduct your search.  Please ask for help if you want assistance with your search. Complete the form at Ask a Librarian, summarizing your question and what terms you have used in your search.  


Save and Manage Results

  • Save searches or collections of articles in PubMed's "My NCBI" or register for accounts in other databases to save history of terms 
  • Organize references using citation management software such as EndNote or other open source software