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College of Veterinary Medicine Research Guide

A research guide for CVM teaching, learning, research, and projects, brought to you by your CVM Library!

Veterinary Research Strategies

Getting Started on a Literature Search

The EBM Pyramid of Evidence. The Sladen Library and Center for Health Information Resources. Downloaded from:

Diagram: The Evidence-Based Medicine Pyramid of Evidence.

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·     A literature review is essential for all research, whether the end product is a poster, paper, presentation, or article.  The purpose of searching the literature initially is to discover what needs doing, to answer questions, and to establish a frame of reference for your research.  Documentation of the related literature establishes legitimacy for your work, by demonstrating the research framework into which your project fits.

  • Be methodical, take good notes and always, always keep a working bibliography.
  • Find a recent, solid article on your topic (or a few).
  • Who does this article cite?  Follow trails backward through the literature by following the references.  You can also use Scopus and Google Scholar to discover who has cited the article in question.
  • Identify landmark, foundational research by looking for articles that are ubiquitously cited.
  • Read the articles with a critical eye.  Identify methodological strengths and weaknesses.  If you can identify gaps, areas not addressed, limitations or things that are “beyond the scope” of an article, you may find a niche your work can exploit.
  • Never cite a second-hand citation (i.e. something you haven’t read.)
  • Beware of citing trade publications or popular works.  Always find the primary sources behind the press release or popular article.  This is different from your clinical work in which you may be relying on professional magazines or advice from message boards.  For literature reviews, stick with peer-reviewed, scholarly research in books, journals, conference proceedings and government publications (whether online or in print).

IACUC Searches

In order to comply with IACUC regulations, you must demonstrate that you've completed a search for animal alternatives and other requirements.  Here are some resources and ideas to get you started:

Systematic Reviews

Systematic reviews are time-consuming and must adhere to the very highest standards of study design.  The authors must demonstrate thorough literature search techniques in order to pass muster.  Here are some resources to get you started:

Veterinary Research Databases

Listed below are databases that you may find useful for veterinary medicine research. For a complete listing of all of MSU Libraries' online indexes and databases, click here.

If the MSU Libraries does not provide access to a journal article or other item that you need, you may order it through Interlibrary Loan.

Tip: search across CAB Abstracts, Agricola, MEDLINE (which contains most of PubMed) and other databases simultaneously. Go to Agricola and click on “Choose databases.”  Then click the checkboxes beside each database you want to search, click OK, and continue on with your search as usual.

Veterinary Database Tips n Tricks

  • Once you've found a book or article you want to read or save for later, click on the FIND IT or ONLINE CONTENT buttons to jump to the full-text. find it button

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