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Medicine and Health: Finding Articles

A guide to resources for researching the biomedical literature, including the journal literature and evidence-based medicine.

Medical Journal Indexes

Finding Articles

Each index works differently. Look for online help screens to learn the index's search rules. Some indexes (MEDLINE, PsycINFO) have subject headings with thesauruses and may provide mapping to lead you to the correct terms to describe your topic. Other indexes (Web of Science) require keyword searching.

For keyword searching, think about synonyms, plurals, and various conjugations; learn how to truncate to look for root words with multiple suffixes and to combine terms with operators like AND, OR, and NOT.

Many indexes provide links to the articles.  Look for the green Get It icons. These open windows that show you options for linking to the full text of the article or requesting a copy through Dartmouth's DartDoc service.

Browsing Journals

Primary Literature

What is "primary literature"?

  • Primary literature: contain original data and ideas and are generally the first published record of an investigation. Examples include research articles, research monographs, preprints, patents, dissertations, and conference proceedings.
  • Secondary sources: information about primary sources, usually a compilation or synthesis of various ideas and data. Secondary sources may rearrange or modify data and include such sources as indexes to the primary literature, reference works derived from primary research, and reviews. Examples include encyclopedias, review articles, handbooks, bibliographies, and abstracts/indexes.
  • Tertiary sources: discuss science rather than contribute or are indirect sources. Examples include textbooks, directories, and literature guides.