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Research and Scholarly Activity Guide for Psychiatry Faculty, Residents, Fellows, and Students

How do I choose which databases to use?

Where you look depends on your disciplinary area/content of your research question and the publication type you seek.

  1. Look for systematic reviews first in the Cochrane Library, Campbell, PsycINFO (a primary psychology/psychiatry database), and PubMed (MEDLINE) (a primary health and science database).
  2. If you do not find systematic reviews in any of these databases, try looking for any reviews or individual research studies on your topic/question in PsycINFO and PubMed (MEDLINE).
  3. You will also want to check into non-database resources (see Additional Resources for Psychiatry Searches tab to the left).
  4. This is a good time to consult with a librarian if your searches are not bringing back the search results you need.





PsycINFO via Ovid

PsychINFO (OVID) Searching Tips:

  1. Search one concept at a time.
  2. Once you have 2 or more concepts on your search history list you can AND them together.
  3. Add limits (by year, by article type, or other limit) after you search, following the examples in Basic Searching Techniques . In PsycINFO these options are in the blue box beneath the search box or by clicking on the Additional Limits button in the blue box.
  4. Click the checkbox to the left of citations to mark them. Once you are done marking your desired citations, go to the top of the search results and click on the Export link, then choose the format appropriate for your citation management software. You can also email yourself citations.
  5. Use the Find at OHSU Library full text button to connect to full text options of that article via the OHSU Library Catalog.

The following screenshots show some of the web interfaces you may see in your PsycINFO search.

Searching on the first concept:

Search on term


Choose subject headings

You will see search results. Scroll down to the main search box and search on your other concepts.

Once you have searched your major concepts AND them together

Clicking on Display Results brings you to the list of citations found on your search.

PsycINFO and PubMed (MEDLINE) also allow you to limit your search results by Age, Date, and other limits - see below.

Clicking on the Additional Limits button provides access to many more limits.


MEDLINE is the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) premier bibliographic database that contains references to journal articles in life sciences, with a concentration on biomedicine. MEDLINE content is searchable via PubMed and other interfaces (such as Ovid) and constitutes the primary component of PubMed, a literature database developed and maintained by the NLM National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

To access PubMed, access the OHSU Library and scroll down to the Quick Links in the lower left. There will be a PubMed link on the first tab.

PubMed Searching Tips

1. Try both simple and more complex searches as needed.

Example: I start searching PubMed with the first line of text, and adjust the search terms (utilizing more/different keywords and also maybe some MeSH terms) based on how relevant the results are that come back in any given search.

  • veterans traumatic brain injury pain
  • veterans traumatic brain injury pain management
  • veterans traumatic brain injury chronic pain
  • >veterans traumatic brain injury AND (pain management OR chronic pain)
  • veterans traumatic brain injury opioids
  • (veterans OR veterans health OR veterans health services) AND (traumatic brain injury) AND (opioids OR opioid analgesics OR opioid use disorder)
  • MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) version of one variation of search
    ("Brain Injuries, Traumatic"[Mesh]) AND (("Veterans"[Mesh] OR "Veterans Health"[Mesh] OR "Veterans Disability Claims"[Mesh] OR "United States Department of Veterans Affairs"[Mesh] OR "Veterans Health Services"[Mesh]) AND ("Analgesics, Opioid"[Mesh] OR "Analgesics, Opioid" [Pharmacological Action] OR "Receptors, Opioid"[Mesh] OR "Opioid-Related Disorders"[Mesh] OR "Opioid Epidemic"[Mesh]))
  • Another MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) version of another variation of the search
    ("Veterans"[Mesh] OR "Veterans Health"[Mesh] OR "Veterans Disability Claims"[Mesh] OR "United States Department of Veterans Affairs"[Mesh] OR "Veterans Health Services"[Mesh]) AND ("Analgesics, Opioid"[Mesh] OR "Analgesics, Opioid" [Pharmacological Action] OR "Receptors, Opioid"[Mesh] OR "Opioid-Related Disorders"[Mesh] OR "Opioid Epidemic"[Mesh])

2. Use the filters on the left side of the screen to narrow your search. You can narrow by either using more focused concepts or narrow the number of results that come back.

  • More focused concepts might include AND-ing in a particular age or geographic location (e.g. elderly, United States)
  • Narrowing number of results can also happen through clicking on one or more of the filters such as Publication Type, Age, or Publication Year.

3. Use the Advanced page (link to this is below the search box) to review your search. You can also search directly from this page.

4. Click the boxes beside citations and use the Send To (upper left button) to save or email citations.

5. Use the Find it @ OHSU Library full text button to connect to full text of that article via the OHSU Library catalog.

Basic Searching Techniques

Every database has a slightly different search interface, but these basic searching techniques will help you get the most out of your search in any database.

1. Form your clinical search questions and pull out the key terms or phrases you need.

Example: What are issues to consider in utilizing opioid analgesics to address pain associated with traumatic brain injury in U.S. veterans?

2. Enter the key terms and phrases using the syntax specified by the database you are using - look for a ? or Help button, or email the librarians, to check how that particular databases uses quotation marks and other symbols.

In our example question from above, we might start by doing a keyword search, where we toss in all the concepts

Example: opioids pain traumatic brain injury United States veterans

3. Evaluate the search results and narrow or broaden as desired.

4. To narrow a search:

  • If you get too many results or the results you are getting appear too general for what you are seeking, use one or more limits/filters or add in another term.

Example: English language, sex (female or male), publication date (last 10 years, etc.), age ranges (newborn, adolescent, adult, elderly).

  • Limit by publication type. If you are looking for a broad overview of a topic or are just starting to get your head around a set of knowledge, try clicking on the Review and/or Systematic Review checkboxes on the left (in PubMed) or where they otherwise reside in other databases.This will reduce the results you see to just articles that provide broad overviews of the topic in question.
  • Limit by year(s).

5. To broaden a search:

  • If you get few results, try taking out one or more concepts.

Example: opioids traumatic brain injury veterans

  • Alternatively, there are often many words for the same concept, so consider alternate searches if you cannot find what you need and OR in synonyms for one or more concepts to broaden that concept.

Example: (opioids OR opioid analgesic OR opioid use disorder) AND (pain management OR pain OR traumatic brain injury) AND (veterans OR veterans health services OR veterans administration)

5. Now you are ready to search the citations for relevant articles.