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Problem-based Learning & Finding the Evidence: Home

Starting Points

This year, the focus of the resources and the search tips are about finding quality evidence to answer your questions.  Many of the resources you are familiar with will answer your background questions very well, but for those questions beyond textbooks, you will need to be more particular about the evidence they provide. 

The first step in the search process is ASSESS.  What is the question you have?  What type of question is it?

  • Background Question   For general knowledge look up and are often questions that start with how, what, when, where, or why.  It may also be a quick factual look up question, e.g., what is a normal WBC? what test is used to check thyroid functioning?
  • Clinical Question   These questions are ones that lead to clinical decision making. e.g., what is the best treatment for a patient that adresses her or his specific needs.  Rule of thumb is, clinical questions begin and end with the patient.
  • Drug Question  Often a variation of a background question but with the special twist of being very pharma-centric, e.g., questions about dosing, side-effects, interactions, pharmacokinetics, or look up a disease to find the drugs appropriate for treatment.

Questions? Contact Us

Ask a Bimedical Library

Contact your personal librarian (Karen, the librarian) for additional assistance or use the link below to connect by email, IM, chat or phone:

PubMed Tools

Did you know that in PubMed you can:

Use Limits to:

  • Specify the type(s) of articles retrieved (e.g., Clinical Trials, Case Studies, Reviews)
  • Specify age groups (e.g., 6-12 year olds, 19-44 year olds, 80 & over, and more)
  • Specify human or animal studies
  • Specify the language of the article

Jump to the PubMed Tutorial about Limits.

Use Clinical Queries to:

  • Find systematic reviews
  • Use preformatted filters for evidence-based searching
  • Target articles on medical genetics

Jump to the PubMed Tutorial about using Clinical Queries

Sharpen you PubMed skills with these tutorials:

Guide Overview

Quick Links to Info on this Page:

Jump to Current Case

Learn to Use Info Resources

Why bother with these resources when everything is on the internet and findable in Google?

Well, the truth is not everything is in Google and full-text in not always available (thus, library subscriptions and remote access are important).  Life-long learning is a hallmark of the medical profession.  Becoming familiar with the tools to help with that is a tremendous time-saver, and in your career, time will be in short supply.  Here's some advice from Dr. David Sackett:

"Half of what you’ll learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of your graduation; the trouble is that nobody can tell you which half – so the most important thing to learn is how to learn on your own."

The Search Process

Your search will always begin with an assessment of your information need and a recognition of the type of question you have.  Your next steps depend upon your assessment.  The following outlines the process of searching.

Searching Decision Tree