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Pharmacy Literature Search Skills

Why do we search?

In short, we search the literature in order to follow principles of evidence-based medicine.

Evidence-based medicine involves searching for the best available evidence to inform your clinical decision-making when deciding what treatment is the best option for your patient, given the patient’s condition and medical history.

In order to practice evidence-based medicine, you need to know how to find the evidence using different searching tools, using carefully formulated search strategies. Knowing how to construct effective search strategies and which searching tools to use will help you find the evidence you need when making important clinical decisions.

Where do you start with your research?

Students often ask "what's the best database?" or "why is literature searching so hard?" Asking which database or information source is best is a bit like asking which antibiotic is best - it depends on what your need is! And much like finding the right antibiotic for a particular patient, literature search often involves some trial and error and uncertainty. 

In this online tutorial, you'll learn about some good starting points for answering different types of questions, and learn some techniques to save you time and frustration when searching the primary literature. 

This guide is not a comprehensive list of resources available for Pharmaceutical Sciences students. Please see the related guide below for links to RxTx, LexiComp, and more. 


Many thanks to Prubjot Gill for making extensive enhancements and updates to this guide in March 2020.