Toxicology - In-depth Research Guide: Major Databases
Major Databases - The starting point
Databases are listed in the recommended order for searching. There can be significant overlap of information between databases. Hence, the researcher must determine the point of diminishing returns where the retrieval of already discovered information overwhelms the amount of new information found in each additional database they searched. If summary information on reasonably common chemicals is desired, one should first search the National of Medicine's TOXNET system that searches across a large number of their databases.
Toxicology can be literally a matter of life and death, so researchers are urged to consult both current and older literature (often not accessible via electronic means) to make certain key information is not missed. A tragic death of a healthy volunteer occurred at John Hopkins University in June 2001 because researchers missed toxicity information published in the 1950's on a particular compound since they searched only the current MEDLINE file that began with 1966 references. [Information Today, 8/7/2001]. Although the databases listed below provide excellent overall coverage, it is essential to use carefully constructed and multiple search strategies to minimize the chances of missing key references. If in doubt, please consult with the toxicology subject specialist librarian or the subject specialist librarian for your department.
Given its broad scope, large size, and ease of use, SciFinder is the database that should be searched next. SciFinder provides simultaneous access to the main Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) literature database of over 43 million references (CAPLUS) since 1900 and the complete National Library of Medicine's MEDLINE database of over 25 million references since 1946. Also included in this system are:
- Substance database of over 120 million registered substances including over 66 million biosequences (REGISTRY),
- Regulatory chemicals database compiled from an extensive group of state, national, and international regulatory lists and inventories. (CHEMLIST)
- CASREACT database: providing access to over 76 million reactions,
See the Database Details Tab for detailed information on searching toxicological information. SciFinder Web has many more features beyond the scope of this brief guide. Please see the SciFinder Product Description Page for links to additional documentation.
Note that SciFinder requires individual registration with one's UB email address. UB patrons must register for an individual SciFinder user i.d.
2) BIOSIS Citation Index (2008+) & BIOSIS Previews 2002-2007 on OVID platform
NOTE: We also have access to Biological Abstracts 1980-1997 on OVID platform. Biological Abstracts is the journal article subset of BIOSIS Previews. a and the expanded BIOSIS Previews from 2002-2007.
BIOSIS Citation Index, an enhanced version of Biological Abstracts, is a comprehensive life sciences database covering journal literature, conference papers, U.S. patents, and books. BIOSIS Citation Index covers the fields of agriculture, biochemistry, bioinformatics, biomedicine, biotechnology, botany, genetics, and much more. Note that UB's subscription to this electronic database goes back only to 1990. If desired, one can simultaneously search MEDLINE (Web of Science) and BIOSIS Citation Index simultaneously in one pass on the Web of Science platform. Note that certain special fields and features of each database are not available when searching the databases together.
Prior to 1990, the print equivalent, Biological Abstracts, can be consulted back to 1927 in the Lockwood Periodicals Collection under call number PER QH301.B37. Note that other electronic databases described in this section, notably SciFinder, go back much farther in time and can be consulted for pre-1990 information.
Often simple keyword searching can retrieve many useful toxicological references. However, because of the database size and wide range of topics, searching specific fields for controlled index terms and classification codes is frequently required to create a more complete and, at the same time, focused set of results. Please see the BIOSIS Citation Index Quick Reference Guide for detailed information on searching toxicological information in this database.
3) AGRICOLA (Agricultural Online Access)
This US National Agricultural Library (NAL) database contains citations and abstracts of journal articles, reports, patents, and other sources of information back to 1970. AGRICOLA contains significant information on the toxicological and environmental aspects of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, food, animal feed products, and veterinary medicines. Strong coverage of the impact and fate of toxic chemicals in ecological systems and on individual plant and animal species is provided.
Simple keyword searching will usually produce acceptable results, provided some thought is given to what keywords in the title, abstract, and indexing will best describe a particular topic. However, both the NAL Agricultural Thesaurus of Subject Headings and the AGRICOLA Subject Category Codes can be used to enhance both the relevance and scope of the results. .
MEDLINE is the US National Library of Medicine's (NLM) premier bibliographic database covering the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and the preclinical sciences. MEDLINE contains references and abstracts from more than 4,600 biomedical journals published in the United States and 70 other countries back to 1966. The print equivalent of MEDLINE, called Index Medicus, can be searched back to 1879 in the Abbott Library 's Index Collection.
If desired, one can simultaneously search MEDLINE (Web of Science) and BIOSIS Citation Index simultaneously in one pass on the Web of Science platform. Note that certain special fields and features of each database are not available when searching the databases together.
MEDLINE records related to toxicology can readily be searched in either SciFinder or TOXLINE databases described above as well as the publicly available PUBMED interface. However, those who wish to create extensive combinations of search terms (sets) using Boolean logic or take full advantage of the detailed, hierarchical MeSH subject headings should become familiar with Ovid interface to MEDLINE.
Often simple keyword searching can retrieve many useful toxicological references. However, because of the database size and wide range of topics, searching the MeSH subject heading field is required to create a more complete and, at the same time, focused set of results. Please see the Database Details Tab on this guide for detailed information on searching toxicological information in this database.
Note: The only way to automatically eliminate duplicate citations from the various databases containing MEDLINE records is to download the search results into a bibliographic citation management software package such as EndNote. The University Libraries provides a UB-wide license to the EndNote product.