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Health Sciences Research Tools: Home

Last Updated: Feb 18, 2021 3:54 PM

Research Tools

There are many unique tools and programs that can be used to facilitate the research process. These tools are often used by librarians and information professionals, but many researchers are unaware of these options. This page is designed to provide basic tutorials which will familiarize researchers with some of the basic tools that are available to them through the UB Abbott Library. As always, if you have further questions you may always stop by the reference desk to work with one of our reference librarians.

Just Getting Started? Check Out Some of Our Database Tools

Journals in NCBI Databases

Part of PubMed, this resource is pretty straight-forward and easy to use, but don’t let its simplicity fool you–it can be a valuable research tool. Many e-journals databases and catalogs operate more efficiently and yield accurate results when you are able to provide the full journal title. Unfortunately, many citations include just a journal title abbreviation. While some abbreviations aren’t too difficult to decipher, it’s easy to get stuck trying to figure out the proper journal title. You can easily hit an obstacle before you really even get into the research!

To translate a tricky abbreviation, try using Journals in NCBI Databases. You simply type in the abbreviation and the resource returns a relevant result with all of the vital pieces of information relating to that journal. You can find out information such as:

  • The complete title
  • If the title has changed over time (if you’re looking for a journal article from 1970 and the name of the journal changed in 1980, you might be looking for the journal under the current title and not the title for the time period you’re interested in!)
  • The language of the journal (if you can’t read German, perhaps Acta biologica et medica Germanica won’t help you as much as you thought)
  • ID numbers, such as ISSN
  • Publisher
  • Publication years

Let’s take a look.

Start by getting yourself to the PubMed Home Page. Click on the link entitled “Journals in NCBI Databases”, located in the lower right side of the page.

PubMed scree snhot with Journals in NCB Database highlighted

Type in your journal abbreviation.  

Screen shot of Filter field filled in for N Engl J Med

Then check out your results.

Screen shot of search results

Due to the fact that each journal has a unique abbreviation, you typically only retrieve one result–and it’s often the one that you’re looking for. Take the time to look at the record, check for any changes in regard to title or publication, and jot down any useful ID numbers, such as the ISSN.

The ISSN is an International Standard Serial Number. Essentially, this is like a social security number for a publication. It’s a unique identifier and it can be very useful to you if you will be searching for this item through a complex database or catalog.

PubMed Single Citation Matcher

Another handy tool from PubMed, the Single Citation Matcher allows you to fill in gaps in your citations, or to find correct citations with information that you already have. What if you’re looking for an article, but you don’t remember the title? Fill in the other pieces of information and the Citation Matcher will provide the full citation. This can be a great go-to resource if you feel that you might have an inaccurate citation or if you’re missing some pieces of vital information.

To use the Single Citation Matcher:

Start at the PubMed home page and click the “Single Citation Matcher” link in center of the page.

Pub Med home page with Single Citation Matcher highlighted

Type in any information that you have and click the “Go” button.

Screen Shot of Pubmed Single Citation matcher with filled in fields

You found your citation!

Screen shot of citation manager results


It can be challenging to locate specific pharmaceutical information in a large database. EMTREE, found within the EMBASE database, allows you to find the appropriate search term(s) for a particular drug. If you are misspelling the name of the drug, EMTREE will provide a list of suggested drugs (similar to Google’s“Did you mean...?”). This tool essentially gives you drug term subject headings that are similar to MeSH, or Medical Subject Headings. It provides clarification and allows you to easily yield results that are relevant to your specific topic.

To use EMTREE tool, just start out at the EMBASE home page. Click the “EMTREE” tab at the top of the page.

Screen shot of Embaseh home page with Emtree highlighted

Type in your drug name (I’m using Warfarin as an example). There is also the option to browse by facet.  After conducting the search, you will then have the option of selecting the drug from a list, which will then bring up more detailed information about the drug.

Screen shot of Emtree result for finding the term warfarin

Just Need the Basics? Try Looking at QuickLessons and Evidence-Based Care Sheets

CINAHL Evidence-Based Care Sheets

What is an Evidence-Based Care Sheet? These quick and easy guides are available to healthcare practitioners through the CINAHL database. The Evidence-Based Care Sheets are typically two pages in length and they contain need-to-know details and critical information in regards to a variety of diseases and medical conditions. They are based on evidence based medical research, meaning that these sheets sum up a wide range of validated medical research on the topic at hand. The major sections included are “What We Know” and “What We Can Do” and their bulleted format makes these sheets a quick go-to resource for medical professionals.

To access the Evidence-Based Care Sheets, start out by getting to the CINAHL home page. Click the “Evidence-Based Care Sheets” link at the top of the page.

Screenshot highlighting Evidence-Based CareSheets

You can then browse through the alphabetical listing of Care Sheets or you can search for a topic using the search box at the top of the page.  Once you find a top that interests you, check it’s box and click the “Search” button at the top of the page.

Screenshot showing where the Search button is

A result for the Care Sheet will be retrieved. Click on the PDF link to access the Care Sheet.

A screen shot showing where the PDF Full Text button is

The image below shows an example of what a Care Sheet looks like.

A screen shot of an example care sheet

CINAHL Quick Lessons

Quick Lessons are similar in format to Evidence-Based Care Sheets. The primary difference is that, while Evidence-Based Care Sheets are aimed toward the practitioner, the Quick Lessons are designed for patients, families, or people who are interested in basic consumer health information.

These guides serve as useful resources if you will be counseling and providing information to a patient who has recently been diagnosed with a medical condition. They can also be used to educate the patient’s family or caregivers. As a student, you may be expected to give presentations describing various medical conditions. These Quick Lessons can provide basic information for PowerPoint presentations and quick handouts (make sure you cite the source!). Like the Evidence-Based Care Sheets, these Quick Lessons can serve as a valuable resource tool for any healthcare professional or health sciences student.

Accessing Quick Lessons is similar to accessing the Evidence-Based Care Sheets. Begin by visiting the CINAHL home page.  The Quick Lessons link is available under the "More" drop down menu at the top of the page.

A screen shot feature the More menu's Quick Lessons link

Again, once you locate an interesting topic, select the box next to the title and click on the “Search” button at the top of the page.

A screen shot showing a box checked next to a title.

This will take you to the article link, click on the PDF link to take you to your Quick Lesson.

A screen shot showing the results and a PDF Full Text button

The image below is a zoomed-out version of the PDF document that will open up to display the Quick Lesson.

A screen shot of a PDF document.

Complex Topic? Take a Glance at Some Unique Databases

Google Scholar

Some researchers out there are leery of using Google for academic and professional research. The truth is, you should be a bit skeptical about finding articles off of the Internet using the standard Google search engine. With that said, Google Scholar is a different type of program and it can be a valuable tool for researchers who are seeking out information on very complex topics. Google Scholar allows you to type in a string of key words (just like you would with Google) and it will often return surprisingly relevant results–it’s definitely worth a try.

If you would like to try using Google Scholar, the site address is

A screen shot of a blank Google Scholar search page.

You can use Google Scholar to search for articles using two methods. You can either (a) search by typing a string of key words into the main search box, or you can (b) conduct an advanced search by clicking on the drop down menu to the right of the search box. The advanced search page is set up so that you can limit your search to include specific elements.

If you want to access some articles, just type in your topic (we will conduct a basic search for “adolescent bereavement”) and click the “Search” button. A list of relevant articles should appear.

Google Scholar is often a great place to get started. You may not be able to access an article its full-text format (it may only provide an abstract), but it does provide you with a citation. From that point you select the "Find it @ UB" link next to the article or the UB E-Journals Page to search for the journal in which that article was published. It’s a great place to go if you are working on a very complex research topic, or if you are having difficulty finding relevant information in databases such as Medline and PubMed.

Biomedical Databases List

Database conglomerates, like PubMed and Medline, are often good places to start when it comes to researching topics in the health sciences. However, it is important for healthcare professionals to know that they have other options. The Abbott Library website contains a list of links to all of the Biomedical Databases available to UB affiliates. The list is rather extensive and some of these smaller databases can be helpful to individuals who are looking for specific types of information. There is an entire database dedicated to topics such as Cancer, AIDS, sleep, genetic research, and even lactation. Browse the alphabetical list and see what we have to offer.

To access the complete alphabetical listing, start out by visiting the UB Abbott Library Home Page. Click the general “Biomedical Databases” link, listed in the box on the left side of the page.

Clicking this link will take you to the list of biomedical databases. Feel free to visit the site and familiarize yourself with some new resources. Many of these databases are also free and open to the public. You m ay find that having some background knowledge about these databases will come in handy when you are no longer affiliated with UB and are working as a healthcare practitioner in the “real world”.


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Elizabeth Stellrecht
120A Abbott Hall, South Campus
(716) 829-5734