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Databases & How to Use Them

Example topic: osteoporosis after steroid treatment of ulcerative colitis

ID the key concepts of your question, in this case—



ulcerative colitis

Come up with related terms for each key concept.

Use truncation to search for terms that begin with a word root.


will search for

osteoporosis, osteoporoses, osteoporotic, osteoporotically...

First, search each key concept separately (lines #1, #2, #3). Consult the database’s search history to see how many hits your terms produce. Big numbers are your friend. If there are too few hits for a key concept, add more synonyms or some broader terms. If there are too many hits, remove terms and/or use narrower terms.

Then combine search lines, as shown (lines #4, #5).

Using the    service will show you options for getting an article--either online, in print, or via InterLibrary Loan.

Recommended Databases

Scientific Literature

Full-text News Sources

ID Journals that Publish Peer-Reviewed Articles

Drug Information

The PICO Search

Ask a good clinical question by formulating your information need as a PICO search.

PICO stands for...

Patient or Population or Problem




Try this type of search in PubMed, using the tool PICO Linguist (National Library of Medicine).

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