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Information Literacy for Health Sciences Students: Looking in the right places

This library guide grew from the question "what should each UCSF health sciences student know about information finding and organization by the time they graduate?"

Foreground resources: Databases and metasearch engines

A Word about Databases:

They are built for retrieval of information.

They often have a dictionary or glossary of terms. In the library world these are called Controlled vocabularies, The names vary by database: e.g., MeSH in PubMed, Emtree in Embase, Thesaurus in PsycINFO, CINAHL Headings in CINAHL.

Databases: Choose based on topic

Name What is it good for Size
PubMed (contains MEDLINE) Biomedical sciences (US Nat'l Lib Med) 27 M
Embase Biomedical sciences (Elsevier) 34 M
Web of Science Life sciences, Social sciences (Clarivate) 35 M
PsycINFO Psychology (ProQuest) 4.4 M
Sociological Abstracts Sociology (ProQuest) ?? M
CINAHL Nursing and allied health (EBSCO) 5.2 M
ERIC Education (ProQuest) 1.2 M

Each of the databases in the table above can be found by searching in the search box on the library home page; results will be found to the right of the page in the Database area.

There are a wealth of databases to be found in the Databases link in Popular Links on the Library Homepage.


"Meta Search Engines"

Name What is it? Tips/Tricks
Google The current mother of all search engines... Limit by .edu or .gov domains in Advanced Search
GoogleScholar Google results filtered for academic content. Mostly published articles but also papers and presentations, white papers, etc.

Settings. Used Advanced Search.  Simplify PubMed searches. Find at

Tripdatabase An Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) search engine. The free version is very useful. You can get some bells and whistles for $40/year. Try the PICO search. Find at
SUMsearch A somewhat idiosyncratic search engine for EBM. There is no substitute for trying this one...find at