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Do your own search for information 
in medical journals
(updated 5/2006)


This is pretty easy, but if you're really not sure you're up to this, start with the HubMed approach.  The Pub Med "search engine" from the National Library of Medicine is user friendly, but is not leaning over to make things look simple, as HubMed does. In each case, the data base to which you'll connect -- the entire published medical literature of the last several decades, at least for the major several thousand journals --  is probably the most extensive in the world.  Let's go!

First, I'd like you to have a look at the search site and then come back (unless it looks simple and you're ready to do it on your own -- that's possible!).  You can close the new window on your browser to return here; or on some PC's you can use "alt/tab" (hold down alt then hit tab once) to "toggle" between programs, including browser windows. Click Pub Med or HubMed to open the site, then come back. 

Now you're back, right?  Here's all you have to do.  In the search box (black and grey box at the top, for PUB MED), there's a blank space (just to the left of the "Go" button).  Click in that space and a cursor appears.  Now type the concept you want to search for, and click "Go".  You can try that now, then come back, unless it's obvious to you what to do with the list you get.  Try entering "bipolar depression" as an example.

So, you click "Go" and you get this list.  There are relevant references, and useless ones. Notice that the most recent articles are listed first -- isn't that handy?  That means you can get a huge list you'd never be able to go through, but it doesn't matter, because the most recent stuff is right there on the top!  Go through the list and look for titles that might give you information on what you're looking for.  When you find a promising title, click on the authors' name (hyperlink) and in most cases you can see an "abstract" (brief summary) of the article. 

The biggest trick to using Pub Med is to think up "search terms" -- the words you type in the box.  Big concepts like "bipolar" or "treatment" will give huge lists; more specific concepts like "cigarettes", or "swimming" or "milk" will narrow the list when combined with big terms.  Pub Med is so big, you can only rarely enter two terms that will not produce any results.   Just keep trying things; with practice you'll get better and better at finding what you want.

If you find an abstract that looks like just what you're looking for, you can call your local library and ask how to find that journal.  Some larger hospitals have medical libraries; some even have librarians who might be able to help you.  University medical centers have many of the journals listed on Pub Med, if you can get to one; a local librarian may be able to help you get an article without travel.

In both search engines, you can set up "RSS feeds" -- which I'm learning now, so can't really explain to you...yet.  But if you know how, there you go!

JP 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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