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Pre-clinical Medicine: Journal Articles

Guide to Oxford University library resources for Pre-clinical Medical Students.

Key Databases

Search tips

Databases are hosted on a variety of interfaces, but most offer the following Advanced Search options.

  • Combine keywords using Boolean Operators:
  • AND - to combine/narrow down; OR - to broaden; NOT - to exclude terms.
  • Use synonyms, alternative terms, phrases and variations in spelling.
  • Use truncation at the end of your search term (*).
  • Refine results by subjects, controlled vocabulary, publication year ...
  • Select/Mark references and display results.
  • Save, E-mail or Export selected references.

Google Scholar

   Tips to get the best out of Google Scholar: 

  • Use as many relevant keywords as possible.
  • If you have a phrase "put it in quotation marks"
  • Use a minus sign before a word to exclude it from the search.
  • On campus you will have links to journal articles via 'Find it at Oxford'. Off campus, use Scholar Preferences to activate this - choose Oxford from the Library Links option.
  • Endnote and Refworks users can set these as your bibliographic manager preference in Scholar Preferences.

Finding a specific journal article

If you have a known reference, your quickest route is probably PubMed, the free service run by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It searches the MEDLINE bibliographic database (covering about 4500 medical periodicals).

Just type in some words from your reference.

This takes you to a bibliographic record (author, article title, journal, date, abstract). The record may also contain a link to the full article.

If the full text is freely available there'll be a Free Full text link. If it's behind a paywall, the library may have a subscription so you can get to it. Look for a link to the publisher or Oxford's linker tool Find it @ Oxford.


Finding references on a subject

Try PubMed or Scopus, a major database of research papers in science and medicine.  Like PubMed it searches bibliographic records and provides links to full text where we have it. Unlike PubMed, Scopus is not freely available so you need to be on the University network or logged in with your Oxford Single Sign-On. 

For more about databases, click on the Databases tab.

PubMed compared with Scopus

Scopus strong points

  • Broader coverage than PubMed - search records from 18,000 journals in total including those indexed in MEDLINE and EMBASE (the 'European Medline').
  • Direct links to an online reference manager, RefWorks. Gather and store references, insert them into your project and automatically generate a bibliography.
  • Links to citing articles. See which more recent papers quote the original paper.

PubMed strong points 

  • More detailed search aids for medical topics, such as Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and Clinical Queries.   

Retrieving full text

Why use Find it @ Oxford?

This clever pop-up shows which years we have access to and who is our authorised supplier. Sometimes we use a third-party site rather than the publisher direct. The backfiles of an e-journal sometimes have a different supplier from the latest issues. If you can't access an e-journal direct via its own website, try to follow the official route!

Cited Reference Searching


Cited reference searching (finding out what articles have cited an article after publication) can be done on Web of Science (Science Citation Index), or for articles published after 1996 on Scopus Look for Times Cited or Citations.

Google Scholar also has 'Cited by' links.

Racliffe Science Library