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Research Guides

Pharmacy: Key Information Resources

Types of Literature

Primary Literature provides current /original information on which the knowledge of drugs and therapeutics is built.  It can be used to validate information found in tertiary sources or provide more depth about a topic. Examples of primary literature include patents, conference papers/posters, journal articles reporting original research, case reports, clinical trial protocols,etc. 

Secondary Literature provides gateways or tools to get to primary resources. Indexing and abstracting services are important composition of secondary literature. Examples of secondary resources include indexes, bibliographies and bibliographic databases such as PubMedEmbase

Tertiary Literature presents summaries or condensed versions of known information from primary and/or secondary sources. They are convenient, usually easy to use and provide quick access to information. Examples of tertiary sources are:  websites, textbooks, databases, drug compendia, review articles, encyclopedias, etc.

Literature Search Process

1. Decide on a topic.

2. Research background information.

3. Identify concepts and search term(s).

4. Try a few searches on relevant databases.

5. Modify your search term(s).

6. Search the databases again.

7. Identify relevant articles.

For further assistance with literature searches, please contact your librarian.

Literature Search Tips

1. Using a DOI or PMID to retrieve the full text article.

Each article in PubMed was assigned an unique ID called PMID. DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier which might be assigned to published articles and indexed in PubMed. If you are given a citation with a PMID or DOI, you can simply enter them onto the PubMed search box from the MSL's PubMed. You will be able to see Full Text @ TAMU icon that will give you access to the article.

2. Using PubMed left sidebar to limit your search.

Getting too many search results? Use the PubMed left sidebar to limit your search. The commonly used limits include Type of Article, English, Age Group, Publication Year, Gender, etc.

3. Combining PubMed search terms.

A good searcher would search each term or topic separately and combine them to retrieve relevant citations. After you conduct the searches, click Advanced tab and you will see your search history. Click the Add button next to each search to combine your search terms. 

4. Using PubMed Topic-Special Queries.

PubMed Topic-Special Queries page provides specialized pre-limited PubMed searches on different topics and research areas that save your time to construct the search queries. 

5. Saving your favorite articles in PubMed.

There is a Favorite tab for each PubMed article. You will need to log in or create your NCBI account to use this feature.  

Literature Search Tutorials