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Search engines are commonly used to find biomedical sources. Each engine has quirks, advantages, and disadvantages, and may not return the results that the editor needs unless used carefully. It typically takes experience and practice to recognize when a search has not bee

Search engines are commonly used to find biomedical sources. Each engine has quirks, advantages, and disadvantages, and may not return the results that the editor needs unless used carefully. It typically takes experience and practice to recognize when a search has not been effective; even if an editor finds useful sources, they may have missed other sources that would have been more useful or they may generate pages and pages of less-than-useful material. A good strategy for avoiding sole reliance on search engines is to find a few recent high-quality sources and follow their citations to see what the search engine missed. It can also be helpful to perform a plain web search rather than one of scholarly articles only.

PubMed is an excellent starting point for locating peer-reviewed medical literature reviews on humans from the last five years. It offers a free search engine for accessing the MEDLINE database of biomedical research articles offered by the National Library of Medicine at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.[35]

PubMed is an excellent starting point for locating peer-reviewed medical literature reviews on humans from the last five years. It offers a free search engine for accessing the MEDLINE database of biomedical research articles offered by the National Library of Medicine at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.[35] There are basic and advanced options for searching PubMed.[36] For example, clicking on the "Review" tab will help narrow the search to review articles. The "Filters" options can further narrow the search, for example, to meta-analyses, to practice guidelines, and/or to freely readable sources. Although PubMed is a comprehensive database, many of its indexed journals restrict online access. Another website, PubMed Central, provides free access to full texts. While it is often not the official published version, it is a peer-reviewed manuscript that is substantially the same, but lacks minor copy-editing by the publisher.[37]

When looking at an individual abstract on the PubMed website, an editor can consult "Publication Types", "MeSH Terms", etc. at the bottom of the page to see how the document has been classified in PubMed. For example, a page that is tagged as "Comment" or "Letter" is a letter to the editor (often not peer-reviewed). The classification scheme includes about 70 types of documents.[38] For medical information, the most useful types of articles are typically labeled "Guideline", "Meta-analysis", "Practice guideline", or "Review". Even when an article is one of the most useful types and recently published, it can be helpful to check the journal on DOAJ and other databases as well as the status and publishing track of authors if they make extraordinary claims. There is no magic number, but it is useful to compare the authors to others' in the same field of study.