Literature searching is a methodical process of looking for published or unpublished evidence on a chosen topic using bibliographic databases. Within the health sciences, this evidence usually comes in the form of information sources like books, journal articles, guidelines, clinical trials data, or conference proceedings. Good literature searches help you find relevant, up to date, quality information to help you identify current research gaps, potential research methods, and current theories and findings.
Bibliographic databases are collections of references and abstracts on a specific subject or subjects. The references are usually drawn from resources like academic journals, books, and reports from professional associations that are reputable, clearly dated, and have already been reviewed for quality and accuracy.
Some databases, journals and resources are free for anyone to access and some are only accessible to UF affiliates through the libraries' subscription. To access subscription resources while off campus, you must be logged in to the VPN or the proxy service.
Access to electronic resources should be seamless from any UF networked computer. Note that some computers in Shands may require remote access.
Eligibility for access: UF students/faculty/staff members with current, valid UF ID/Gator1 Card.
Still have questions about how to use certain databases? Looking to hone your skills and become an expert searcher?
Take one of our Library Workshops and learn how to search databases, manage your citations, organize your data, perform systematic reviews, and remember medical terminology!
PubMed comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.
Web of Science contains over 21,100 peer-reviewed, high-quality scholarly journals published worldwide (including Open Access journals) in over 250 sciences, social sciences, and arts & humanities disciplines. Conference proceedings and book data are also available.
The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature provides indexing of the top nursing and allied health literature available. Literature covers a wide range of topics including PA Studies, nursing, biomedicine, alternative/complementary medicine, consumer health, and 17 allied health disciplines.
PsycINFO provides access to international literature in psychology and related disciplines. Topic coverage includes Applied psychology, Communication systems, Developmental psychology, Educational psychology, Experimental human and animal psychology, Personality, Psychological and physical disorders, Physiological psychology and neuroscience, Sports psychology
The Biological Science Collection offers abstracts and citations to a wide range of research in biomedicine, biotechnology, zoology and ecology and some aspects of agriculture and veterinary science. Supporting over two dozen areas of expertise, this database provides access to literature from over 6000 serials, as well as conference proceedings, technical reports, monographs and selected books and patents. Topic coverage includes Bioengineering, Biotechnology, Cell biology, Chemoreception, Genetics, Immunology and vaccines, Microbiology, Molecular biology, Mycology, Neurosciences.
Embase is a highly versatile, multipurpose and up-to-date biomedical research database. It covers the most important international biomedical literature from 1947 to the present day and all articles are indexed in depth using Elsevier's Life Science thesaurus Embase Indexing and Emtree.
The Cochrane Library is a collection of databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making.
Precision = the fraction of retrieved items that are relevant
Recall = fraction of relevant items retrieved out of all relevant items available in the database
When searching, you're looking for a reasonable balance between precision (narrowing your search to get ONLY relevant articles) and recall (widening it to get ALL relevant articles, which usually means a lot more junk to weed through as well).
A common question is "How many articles should be retrieved by a good search?" There's no exact answer to that. Somewhere between 100-300 is a reasonable number of abstracts to weed through, but it depends greatly on your question, how comprehensive you want to be, and how much literature there truly is on your topic.