Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

How to Search in Biomedical Databases

Tutorials for Library Databases and Resources

I Need Articles On a Topic. Where Do I Start?

Step 1: Define your research question. What do you need to know? Use the PICO (or PP-ICONS) method to help form a clinical question, if applicable.

Step 2: Determine the best resources to address your question. Check the library subject guides for databases in your subject area, or start with a general resource like PubMed.

Step 3: Identify your search keywords and controlled vocabulary subject terms. In the majority of cases, a comprehensive and systematic search of literature databases (PubMed especially) includes both controlled vocabulary and keyword terms (i.e. free text, natural language, and synonyms).

Step 4: Search the database for articles on your topic. Learn more about how to search in several different databases.

Step 5: Analyze the articles found of relevance to your topic, or use the PP-ICONS approach to evaluate the results.

Step 6: Download full-text from the resource using the PDF link or the Find-It button. If your article isn’t available full-text from the database, request the article from interlibrary loan –

Need help refining your search? Email to set up a search consult!