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PHCY 6250: Drug Literature Evaluation: Primary and Secondary Sources

Use this guide to explore drug and pharmacy information from the library print and electronic collections and reliable databases and information from the web.

Primary & Secondary Sources

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

A primary source is the original object or document. Primary sources include first-hand reports and original creations (diaries, interviews, art) as well as experimental results (from clinical trials, experiments, scientific discoveries).

A secondary source reports on or analyzes a primary source. Secondary sources include reviews and interpretations of primary sources.

Watch this video from Edmonds Community College Library:

Scientific Primary Sources


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Ask a Librarian
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Basic Searching Tips

Basic Searching Tips

Using Boolean Logic to Focus Your Search Results

Using Controlled Vocabulary (3:53 min)

 Biomedical Databases



Free database from the National Library of Medicine. Includes links to full text including about 30% of articles published in the last five years. Contains over 25 million citations to biomedical articles. One of over 110 freely available databases from the National Library of Medicine.

Essential for pharmacists.

Interactive Tutorials:
PubMed Tutorial
The Basics of Medical Subject Headings
Searching Drugs of Chemicals in PubMed *Essential for pharmacy students

All PubMed Tutorials from the National Library of Medicine


Cochrane Library

Medical indexing/full-text database that provide systematic reviews, controlled trials, methodology register, reviews of effects, health technology assessment and economic evaluations.

Cochrane Systematic Reviews are considered the gold standard in Evidence Based Practice.

Cochrane Tutorials webpage

How to Use MeSH in the Cochrane Library (8:29)
Types of Reviews (10 min.)
Forest Plots (6 min)


Secondary and Primary Resources