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PHCY 6250: Drug Literature Evaluation: Tertiary Resources

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

Tertiary Pharmacy Sources (Video)

Tertiary Literature

What is tertiary literature?

Tertiary information is considered a reference source and is used to answer informational questions. Types of sources include dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, atlases, almanacs, some textbooks, and manuals. The information is usually condensed or summarized.

Types of questions that might be answered by tertiary sources:

What is the incidence of lung cancer in the United States?

What does the abbreviation GMS mean?

What is a microbubble?

What drugs are used to treat ventricular tachycardia?

If urinary pH is below 5.5, what might this indicate?

Can Letairis cause peripheral edema?

Can Ginko Biloba be taken with anticoagulants?


Evaluating Tertiary and Informational Sources

Information found on the Internet can range from deliberate misinformation to primary literature found in open access professional journals. Usually it is easy to identify blatent inaccuracies, but some web sites look official but are not. Some official web sites represent a biased perspective. These evaluation sheets will identify credible, authoritative sources, and the same principles can be used when evaluating other tertiary sources, such as books and trade magazines.

General and Specialty Tertiary Sources

A general tertiary source covers a broad spectrum of topics, such as Stedman's Medical DictionaryMerck Manual or Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment.

A specialty tertiary source has a narrower scope, such as Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference, or AHFS American Hospital Formulary Service.

Electronic Books

Trade Magazines

Trade magazines are usually monthly publications usually distributed for free with an association membership. Unlike peer reviewed journals, these publications provide practical and informational articles relevant to members of that specific association. Sometimes this includes abstracts of annual meeting proceedings. These publications are sometimes called "throw aways" because professionals frequently do not keep the issues and bibliographic databases, such as PubMed, do not index them. Examples of these publications are Consultant Pharmacist and Drug Topics.