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Pharmacy: Research Tips

Brainstorming & Concept Mapping

Need a topic? visual aids :


Grey Literature

What is Grey Literature?

  • Theses and dissertations
  • Conference proceedings and abstracts
  • Newsletters
  • Research reports (completed and uncompleted)
  • Technical specifications, standards, and annual reports
  • Usually NOT Peer-Reviewed

Browse the Book Shelves by Subject

Learn to read a Citation:

Cite your Sources

Getting Started...

1. Find articles:

2. Find books and journals:

Search Strategy Basics

PLAN your strategy:

Read background information to find search terms:

  • Look up your topic in a medical dictionary or use the Credo Reference database and its concept mapping feature to find search terms
  • Find a book, ebook or journal with background information using the FDU Library Catalog
  • Browse the FDU Library book shelves by call number to find information about your subject

Identify search terms:

  • Plan a keyword search OR
  • Plan a MeSH search or any combo

Best Practices:

  • Use one word for each search box
  • If you must use a phrase, put them in quotation marks or parentheses: "over the counter"
  • Use truncation (Example: pharm* will look for keywords such as pharmacy AND pharmaceutical AND pharmacist)
  • Don't use "effect of" or "cause of"- computer doesn't apply logic to your searches

Selecting your articles:

  • Look at the Subjects listed for each article as well as the article titles to make your selection
  • Articles will not "match" your search; they will contain elements of what you need that you will later compile
  • Choose articles based on how they apply to your topic instead of matching your topic exactly

 Ask your Librarians for help at the BEGINNING of the research process!

5 Common researching mistakes

1. Looking for ARTICLE titles that exactly match your topic.

  • You will miss important articles
  • Look at the SUBJECTS listed for your article
  • Articles related to your topic will have data you can use

2. Search terms are too narrow or too broad.

  • If your result list is too short, try broadening your topic. For example: change from Invisalign to dental appliances
  • If your result list is over 1,000 articles, limit your search by date, subject or other factors

3. Missing citation pearls.

  • If you find an excellent article, select the author or subject links to find more like it.
  • If a subject link has a slash indicating a subject heading and its subheading matches your topic, click on the subheading.
  • Example: Dentist-Patient Relations/ Informed Consent - click on Informed Consent

4. Forgetting to save searches that produce great results in Your Folder.

  • You can rerun your searches and uncover newer articles during your research time period
  • You may change the direction of your search and need to remember how you found your original articles

5. Keep your topic general until you have performed the research.

  • It is easier to pick your points after seeing what information exists in the literature
  • If you narrow your topic before researching too much, you may have difficulty finding the information

Keyword vs. MeSH Search Terms

MeSH searching=

  • Medical Subject Headings
  • National Library of Medicine's (NLM) controlled vocabulary for indexing PubMed articles
  • Precise searching
  • Finds what the article is ABOUT

Keyword searching (the default in any database)=

  • Search terms in the article title or abstract
  • Article may or may not be ABOUT your topic
  • Broader searching- works well for topics not well-indexed in PubMed
  • Results can be narrowed using MeSH terms

To find MeSH terms:

  • Go to PubMed homepage
  • Use the drop-down menu at the top left OR the link in the bottom right of the window to search the MeSH database.


  • Once you locate your term on the MeSH hierarchy, check the box next to it and then use the drop down menu above the results to "Send To the Search Box with AND." You can then do a second search for another MeSH term and combine these terms in the search box.

Here is a link to a tutorial on searching PubMed using the MeSH database

Another tutorial on combining search terms using MeSH

And a tutorial on applying subheadings and other features of the MeSH database


Finding Dissertations

Peer Review

  • Peer-reviewed
  • Refereed
  • Scholarly

Journals recognized as scholarly by their academic or medical peers.

Identify peer-reviewed journals by searching for the journal title in Ulrich's Periodical Directory.

My Folder

Every database has an option to setup an Account or Folder.

Create an account or register

  • Hint: use your FDU email username, password for this account to help you remember the login information
  • Add articles to your folder
  • Retrieve later from any computer
  • Save your searches


EBSCOhost databases:

  • Choose Sign In
  • Create new account.


  • Choose My NCBI
  • Create your account.