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Medicine: Finding Articles

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Tips for finding primary literature using a basic Google search

Sometimes delving straight into PubMed isn’t the best way to start. A Google search can help you find reliable research if you know how to look for it.

While you wouldn’t cite Wikipedia, a blog or a popular newspaper in your research paper, you can often use these to find primary research. Good websites will cite or provide links to the scientific research they refer to in their articles. You can then access the original paper in the library’s databases. Just remember to use your best judgment. If a website looks sketchy at first glance, it is probably not worth your time looking for citations to primary sources.

Before you click, look at the URL.

Have you heard of the website?  Well known websites will be more likely to identify the authors and publishing journal of the study they are reporting or referencing.  

Does it ends in .gov, .edu, .org, or .int?  If so, it is also more likely to provide links to the original research.

Try a domain search

You can limit your search to one of these domains by adding it to the end of your search:

  • site:gov (U.S. or State government documents)
  • site:edu (U.S. academic institution sites)
  • site:org (non-profit sites, museums, organizations, etc.)
  • site:int ("international" sites such as U.N. organizations)

Example search: Parkinson's disease site:gov

Note: While these sites tend to provide more reliable information, you always need to assess them!

Assessing websites:

Much of this you probably do without even thinking about it, but here are some questions to keep in mind when searching:

  • Does the page appear sketchy? If so, it probably is!
  • Who is it written by? Is the author or institution clear, and a qualified authority on the subject?
  • Does the information appear current?           
  • Is a bias easily apparent?
  • Can you verify the sources of information used, if needed?

Subject Librarian

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Megan Frost
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(801) 422 5466

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