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Physician Assistant: Academic Searching

What do we mean by academic searching?  You might have had a professor ask you to find a scholarly source or a peer-reviewed article for an assignment. These are both part of the academic searching process. Academic searching is iterative, meaning that steps of the process should be performed multiple times as you refine what you're looking for.

The Research Process, explained:

  1. Select your topic/develop your question.  Start the process by selecting a broad topic to research more.  This may already be given by your instructor in the form of an assignment.  You may also have a broad question you would like to explore more and answer through research.
  2. Search for materials to support your research.  Use keywords from your topic or initial question to search for initial information (preferably using the Library QuickSearch!)
  3. Refine your search keywords and repeat.  If you get more than 100 results, you'll need to narrow your topic.  Add relevant keywords to your search until you start seeing more precise results.  If you're getting very few results, you should broaden your topic.  Repeat this step until you have found enough information to support your topic or question.
  4. Evaluate your sources.  Peer review is a process in which an author's peers reviews a publication for accuracy in results and methodology.  This is done in the hopes that information will be accurate when it is released.  Learn more about how to find peer-reviewed articles.
  5. Cite your sources.  Make sure you provide details on where you get your information.  This is to make sure the information is accurate and to ensure that each person is credited for their own work.  Citations can be formatted in several different ways depending on the chosen style (usually designated by your instructor).