Livestrong Medical Reference Guidelines

In-Text Citations

  • Use an in-text citation to credit the source of a statistic not considered common knowledge. Example: More than 9 percent of U.S. adults have diagnosed diabetes, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Include an in-text citation when reporting data from the literature. Include the month and year of publication and the journal title in quotation marks. Example: The authors of a research study report published in January 2015 in the "World Journal of Gastroenterology" found ... 

Reference Requirements

  • Topic View Medical assignments require at least 3 professional references.

  • Use online sites intended for professionals and/or current medical texts.

  • Do not use abstracts of articles as references; you must have access to the full article.

  • Practice guidelines from professional and public health organizations are preferred for treatment, diagnosis and prevention articles.

  • Systematic reviews and meta-analysis articles are preferred over individual research studies.

  • Do not present preliminary research findings (that have not been verified or replicated) from a single study as medical facts.

  • Randomized, controlled clinical trials are preferable to nonrandomized studies for discussing treatment or prevention efficacy. Results must be from phase III or later (unless such trials have not been conducted).

  • If relying on observational studies as primary resources, evaluate potential biases in the study design to assess the applicability of the findings.

  • Avoid presenting an observed association as causation, or relying on pilot or other small studies as primary resources.

  • Do not generalize findings of a research study beyond the parameters of the study design.

Health Reference Search Tips

  • Use medical terminology to avoid patient/consumer information sites.

    • Search for “differential diagnosis pharyngitis,” not “causes of sore throat.”

  • Use longer, more specific search strings to get more specificity in your results.

    • Instead of “flu medication,” try “recommended antiviral influenza treatment.”

  • Try site-specific searches if you know where you want to look.

    • For example, search the CDC website by including site:cdc.gov before your search query “site:cdc.gov syphilis treatment guidelines.”

  • Limit searches to specific types of organizations by including URL extensions.

    • Search government sites by including site:.gov at the start of your search

    • Search academic sites by including site:.edu

    • Search nonprofits by including site:.org

  • Specify what terms you don’t want included in your search by including a “-“ in front of your search.

    • For example, search for vaccines not including influenza by searching for “vaccines -influenza.”

Blacklisted Sources

  • americanchronicle.com

  • americanpregnancy.org

  • active.com

  • aolhealth.com

  • caloriecount.about.com

  • calorieking.com

  • Dr.Weil.com

  • Emedicine.com

  • eMedicineHealth.com

  • everydayhealth.com

  • health.msn.com

  • health.yahoo.net

  • healthline.com

  • Ihealthdirectory.com

  • lifescript.com

  • mayoclinic.com

  • medicalnewstoday.com

  • Medicinenet.com

  • MedlinePlus

  • Medscape.com

  • menshealth.com

  • mercola.com

  • Nutritiondata.com

  • prevention.com

  • qualityhealth.com

  • revolutionhealth.com

  • runnersworld.com

  • rxlist.com

  • RxList.com

  • self.com

  • Sparkpeople.com

  • thecaloriecounter.com

  • TheHeart.org

  • UpToDate.com

  • webmd.com

  • wellness.com

  • whfoods.com

  • womenshealthmag.com

  • WrongDiagnosis.com

 

Advanced Google Resources.

Try using Google Scholar or Google Books for more authoritative Google searching.

Google Scholar

  • Filter search results by age and relevance.

  • Used advanced search to search by author name, journal name or date if you know what you’re looking for.

  • Note: Google Scholar includes results from “pay-to-publish” online journals. You can vet an online journal by checking to see if it’s in the National Library of Medicine Catalog of Journals referenced in the NCBI databases.

Google Books

  • Use all the same tips you would for general searching.

  • Be sure to vet the author by looking them up. Make sure they are authoritative sources of information (credentials, training, etc.).

National Library of Medicine Resources.

PubMed: great for current medical literature.

TOXNET: information on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health and toxic releases.

Additional TOXNET resources:

NCBI Bookshelf: access to over 1,400 online texts and reports on topics related to healthcare and life sciences.

 
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