Subject Guide: Medicine

A step-by-step approach for finding secondary and primary literature in all areas of Medicine and related disciplines.

Questions? Please contact me (


… questions to ask about the information you find; how appropriate and valuable is the information? A worksheet to go along with the questions.
This is the most important part of any search for information!

Take charge of the information in your life:
Seek information, not affirmation
Source + Motivation = Value

Dig deeper–do not rely on just one source
Understanding is key

Primary and Secondary Literature:

Secondary literature looks like this or this …
Primary literature looks like thisthis, or this … (note the format–IntroductionMethodsResultsDiscussionReferences)

How to use and understand primary literature?
Please be aware when searching for information —
Predatory publishers

Research question/understand and define a topic
… what is the question(s) you are trying to answer? These secondary sources can help you —
*topic ideas
*understand concepts
*answer fact questions
*discover search terms, phrases, and names
*focus a research question
Remember, true research is rarely a straight path.
Good sources to help you understand and link to primary literature:
Review sources:
Other sources:
Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy
For easy-to-understand, authoritative information about human diseases and disorders.
An incredible wealth of overview and more in-depth information organized by the United States National Library of Medicine.
In-depth information about marketed drugs; National Library of Medicine.
Drugs, Herbs, and Supplements
MEDLINEplus — United States National Library of Medicine; a guide to thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and herbs and supplements.
Merck Veterinary Manual
For easy-to-understand, authoritative information about animal/non-human diseases and disorders.


… these sources can help you find evidence to answer your question or validate/invalidate an answer.
OKAY: Google Scholar
Use the “Advanced Search”; can also be used as a tool to focus a broad search (try out search terms, find a possibility, search that possibility in a disciplinary database, and then use the indexing to more precisely find additional papers).
BETTER: Science Primary Literature 
Includes articles, book chapters, and images that have been used and cited by multiple Grinnell students and have been highly cited in the scientific literature. Links to full text are provided; some full text is directly available.
Database help
“PubMed® comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.”  Try the Advanced Search Builder.


If the full text is not directly available above, these are the quickest ways to check if you have access to a source —

Questions? Please contact me (

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