When you can find basically anything on the internet, finding valid and true information can be quite challenging. As scientists, we wish to only know and pass forward true and proven facts, not some made up false information.
Given the times we currently live in, with the whole COVID 19 situation that caused (at least in my country) massive panic and false information spread, knowing where to find and how to use reliable sources is incredibly important.
How to decide if information is reliable and what is impact factor (IF)
Impact factor is used to measure the importance or rank of a journal by calculating the times its articles are cited.
The higher the impact factor, the more influential the journal.
The impact factor of a journal is the number of citations, received in that year, of articles published in that journal during the two preceding years, divided by the total number of “citable items” published in that journal during the two preceding years.
Now to some of the medical and science databases that I’ve recently most used for research and papers.
Drug bank is an amazing database of pharmaceutical substances and everything about them. You can find almost every information about a drug that you wish to see from pharmacodynamics, mechanisms of action to pharmacoeconomics, and so on.
You can search by drug categories and filter your results by group (experimental, approved, withdrawn, illicit, investigational…)
They’ve also intended a separate section for COVID19, where you can find different reliable sources for information about the disease and listed experimental unapproved treatments, clinical trials summaries by drugs, external clinical trials, etc.
I use this database very often for my physiology and pharmacology class and I think it’s one of the best databases for not only medical students but also for medical workers, researchers, and students of other sciences such and pharmacy, chemistry, etc. It’s very easy to use and very nicely organized so you can find the information you’re searching for in no time.
This is an NLM website that is initially intended for patients and their families rather than professional workers, but I still sometimes use it to quickly check on some things or to see how to explain some conditions more simply.
My parents and friends find it very useful because it helps them understand some of their conditions. It’s also a place where you know that what you’ll read is true and reliable and won’t have to recheck the information.
PubMed is probably my number 1 source when it comes to searching for articles. It’s hosted at National Institutes of Health (NIH) and comprises more than 30 million citations for biomedical literature.
Because of the number of articles that can be found there, getting exactly the results you’re looking for can sometimes be tricky if you’re not very familiar with the website. I usually use MESH for finding articles. MESH is a thesaurus used for indexing articles for PubMed and when used correctly it gives you very precise search results. It can be tricky to get a hold of it at first but trust me, it’s definitely worth your time and it can make your work so much easier. I truly recommend you to take the time to get to know this database because it can save you lots of work, especially in finding articles on some specific topics (speaking from personal experience).
When you get the search results you can also filter them based on what kind of article are you searching for (e.g. review), how old do you want an article to be (e.g. published in the last year …), so again, finding what you need is so much easier.
It provides you an abstract of the article and its authors. Sometimes full text is also available, but not in all cases and we’ll get to solving that problem a little later.
Omim is an online catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. You can find human genes and genetic phenotypes and it’s freely available and updated daily.
You can find information on all known mendelian disorders and over 15 000 genes. I used it a lot for my papers last year when we had genetics and I also use it this year in pathophysiology classes where we go over some of the inherited diseases.
Okay and now two databases that can be of huge help when searching for pdf’s of several textbooks or when you can’t get to the full text of the article.
Discovering this website was like a holy grail for me. It’s probably the dream of any student that can’t afford/doesn’t want to spend money on every single textbook needed to study some subject. You can find pdfs of probably most major literature for science subjects. I got all of my literature for 2nd year there in pdf form (except for Costanzo and Boron physiology that were too mandatory to me to just have in pdf, but I have a pdf form of Guyton’s physiology tho)
You can also find articles and other magazines; you just have to know what you’re looking for.
Sci hub has been such an amazing discovery to me. It gives you access to the majority of research papers that would otherwise have to be paid for or you just wouldn’t have access to them. You put in DOI/PMID or URL and you’ll most likely get access to the wanted paper.
This was a huge help to me when either getting access to information that had my interest at the time or for getting resources for my papers.
I hope you found this list somewhat helpful and that those databases will make your student life easier and if not anything else, they will help you get to the needed information faster. They certainly did mine.