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Finding clinical and scientific literature (transition skills): Welcome

Welcome

Welcome to this special transition skills LibGuide, which will introduce you to the process of finding good-quality research on-line, ahead of you starting a university or other course.
Sources of good-quality clinical and scientific literature

The internet offers access to vast amounts of information on scientific and healthcare-related topics. But how can you be sure that the information you find on the internet is accurate and reliable?

One way is to access scientific research via websites that publish, or draw their information from, peer-reviewed journal articles. These are articles written and reviewed by experts, that are published in scientific magazines or journals.

Journal articles are generally available on-line, and may be downloaded as PDFs, though many journals are also published in print format.

See below for some examples of peer-reviewed journals.

Row of cover images from the following journals, from left to right: American Journal of Bioethics, BMJ, International Journal of Nursing Studies Advances, JAMA, The Lancet, Nature Biomedical Engineering, and New England Journal of NursingCover images of some key journals: American Journal of Bioethics, BMJ, International Journal of Nursing Studies Advances, JAMA, The Lancet, Nature Biomedical Engineering, and the New England Journal of Medicine

Premium vs open access journals
Image of a locked padlock marked with a red cross beside an unlocked padlock with a green tick

Many journals are premium publications, meaning paid subscriptions are required to read them. Subscriptions can be expensive, so the only way for most students or researchers to access premium journals is via institutional subscriptions paid for by organisations such as universities or NHS Trusts. As long as an individual remains affiliated with these organisations, they can continue to access subscribed journal content for free.

However, if you are not associated with a university, NHS Trust or other, similar institution, you will generally need to rely on open access journals to read interesting or relevant research papers. 

Open access journals are publications whose contents are freely available on the internet. They provide public access to scientific research and other literature without requiring the reader to pay.

Unfortunately, some open access journals are not very reputable e.g. they claim to peer-review papers to a rigorous standard before publishing them, but fail to do so. 

However, many open access publishers produce good-quality, reliable journals and articles. See below for some examples. The other sections of this LibGuide will show you how to access some of this open access content.

Examples of some open access journal publishers and platforms: BioMed Central, CORE, Directory of Open Access Journals, and Public Library of Science

Logos of some open access publishers and platforms: BioMed Central, CORE, Directory of Open Access Journals, and Public Library of Science (PLOS)