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WHSL Information Sources in the Health Sciences: Using Tertiary Sources

Guides you through the various types of information sources and their use

Types of Tertiary Sources

  • Indexes
  • Abstracts
  • Databases

When to Use Tertiary Sources

  • Indexes provide a starting point for finding journal articles
    • Journal articles are not listed in library catalogues, like books
    • It is often difficult to find the specific information you require in a specific journal on a specific topic
    • Indexes will assist you in this task
  • Abstracting publications are indexes, but also contain small summaries or précis of the articles
    • These summaries or abstracts clarify the content of the article that is indexed
    • They are able to help you decide whether or not the content of the article may be useful
  • Databases are the electronic versions of indexes and abstracting publications
    • They are particularly useful if you are looking for information on two or more aspects of a topic, eg. malaria, and prophylactics
    • Health Sciences databases often contain added-value material, eg. dictionaries, quizzes, encyclopaedias, illustrations, etc.
      • MedlinePlus is an excellent source of basic information for medical and all health sciences students