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BIOL 212: Cell Physiology (Lai)

Finding Primary Sources in PubMed

How to search PubMed to find primary research published since 2000, how to get the full-text articles, and how to find "high impact" journals.

Tips and Strategies

Enter your concepts into the PubMed search box: 

  • EXAMPLE: oxidative stress

Tips to focus your search: 

  • put your concept into quotation marks, if it is a phrase
    • EXAMPLE: "oxidative stress"
  • Add additional terms to narrow the search
    • EXAMPLE: add "autophagy" to the search

Limit your search results by publication date:

  • At the top of the left-hand sidebar, use the date slider to select the date range: 2000 - present year. (Tip: you can expand the size of the slider using the expand button).
  • You can also use the "publication date" filter at the bottom of the sidebar to create a "Custom Range" of years.

What about "Review" articles?

  • "Review" articles are not primary research, but they can be excellent sources to identify relevant primary research articles.
  • If you wish to remove the "review" articles from your search results, use the "Advanced" search link below the search box.
    • Add each of your search concepts, to recreate your original search.
    • From the search fields dropdown menu, choose "Publication Type," and enter "Review" into the search box, and choose "Add with NOT" from the "Add" dropdown menu. 
      • EXAMPLE: (("oxidative stress") AND (autophagy)) NOT ("Review"[Publication Type])

Finding the Full Text of an article:

  • Click on an article title to view the full record.
    • Check the full text links/buttons in the right-hand sidebar.
      • If the link/button says "PubMed Central" or "PMC" or "open access" or "free full text" then the full text will be available.
      • Otherwise, you may see a link to the publisher's website where you can check to see whether or not the full text is available.
      • Always check Gleeson Library's "Full Text Finder" which will let you know if you have access to the full text via the library databases and subscriptions.
        • You must use the library's link to PubMed in order for the library's "Full Text Finder" to appear.

 

Some ways to identify primary research articles:

  • The article will report the results of research conducted by the authors to answer a research question or test a hypothesis.
  • The article should have a "methods" or "methodology" section detailing how the research was conducted.
  • The article should include a "results" section.

 

Some of the tips and strategies in this guide are adapted from work by Gleeson's Nursing librarian, Claire Sharifi.

High Impact Journals

How to determine if an article is published in a "high impact" journal.

"Impact" for journals refers to how influential the journal is in a discipline compared to other journals in the same discipline; this is based on how frequently the journal's articles are cited or referenced by other research articles. You can investigate this kind of "impact" using a database called "Scopus."

  • In Scopus, click on the "Sources" menu at the top of the page.
    • Select "Title" from the dropdown menu, and enter the title of the journal in the search box.
    • EXAMPLE: Biomarkers
      • click on "Biomarkers" in the results list to see that the journal is ranked in the middle of the pack in three different disciplines, so by this measure, it is neither particularly "high impact" nor "low impact."

APA Citations and RefWorks

Research Basics for Review

Use these brief videos to review or refresh your understanding of primary sources and how to read scholarly materials.

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