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Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Services provided by EMTs, firefighters, and paramedics

Searching - Tips & Tricks

Abstract or Article?

An abstract is a summary of the main article. An abstract will include information about why the research study was done, what the methodology was and something about the findings of the author(s). The abstract is always at the beginning of the article and will either be labeled "abstract" or will be set apart from the rest of the article by a different font or margins.


The abstract should tell you what the research study is about, how the research was done (methodology), who the research sample was, what the authors found and why this is important to the field.

Use Quote Marks for Phrase Searching

You have probably noticed when searching in databases or using Google, that when you enter your terms surrounded by quotation marks - like, "kidney failure" - you get slightly different results than if you entered the term with no quotes. This is because quotation marks are used for phrase searching.  When you surround your search terms with quotation marks, you are telling the database that the words must appear as an exact phrase.
In PubMed the following searches break down like this:
kidney failure = 161,894 results
"kidney failure" = 80,598 results

If You Need Current information, Set the Date Range

Most databases will retrieve all articles available, regardless of publication date. Databases typically default to "Relevance", which is a combination of how closely the keywords you used match the keywords in the article, and where and how often the keywords appear. The top article in your results list may be the "most relevant" because the keywords appear in the title, and are repeated often in the text. But that doesn't mean the article is current.

Most databases allow you to set date ranges (sometimes a custom date range, sometimes within the last year, two years, or five years). If you need current information, use the date range option in the database. Important: In medicine and law, "current" is defined as, "within the last five years". 

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