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Rehabilitation Medicine & Physical Therapy Resources

Resources for Doctorate of Physical Therapy and PM&R Faculty and Students

Searching Principles and Retrieving Full Text

  • To achieve optimal results in a literature search, use a minimum of 3 concepts to yield the best results.  Applying the PICO method often helps to generate your concepts.  If you cannot articulate your topic into a question, you probably will not retrieve good results.
  • Most databases do not recognize natural language.  For instance, one can type in a whole sentence to Google/Google Scholar but not in databases like PubMed.
  • In PubMed, avoid searching with acronyms.  Searching DVT yields significantly less than searching for deep vein thrombosis.
  • In PubMed, searching with a noun instead of an adjective retrieves better results:  hypertension versus hypertensive.
  • Each database has its own search syntax.  What is searched in PubMed cannot necessarily be searched in Embase.
  • To refine your search results, use filter/limits such as English, dates of publication to reduce the number of results you will have to review.
  • If seeking evidence based outcomes, if applicable, apply meta analysis or systematic review to search results.
  • Search from Emory's instance of PubMed so you see the Find It @ Emory Button to get to Emory's subscriptions.  Emory's PubMed URL is:
  • Search by topic or copy and paste the article title you are seeking into the search box.
  • Go into a record and click on the "Find It @Emory" button on the far right:



Emory University licenses a Chrome extension called LibKey Nomad via our BrowZine license.  Go to the Chrome Store and search for and install the libkey nomad (as seen below) by clicking on “Add to Chrome.”  


Once you click on “Add to Chrome,” you will be asked to “Select an Institution:”


You will not see any type of confirmation that the extension has been added but you should see a green tear-drop looking icon in the far right corner of your browser that looks like below:


That is how you know that the extension has been installed.  If you go to PubMed or another site, you will most likely see something like the image below.   When you click on the “Download PDF” icon, if you have not already logged into a resource with your University NetID and password, you will be prompted to do so.  Once you do so, it will take you immediately to the PDF, if available.


If Emory University Libraries do not have an article, book, or DVD you need, you can use the InterLibrary Loan Service.  It is a free service provided by the Emory University Libraries for items unavailable in our print or online collections.  

If you are seeking an article via PubMed and it is unavailable after clicking on the "Find It @Emory" button, you can click on on "Request via Interlibrary Loan" option. When you click on that link, you will be prompted for your University NetID and password.  Once you login, you will see a populated request form.  Click "Submit Request" at the bottom.

For items you are requesting not linking out from PubMed, go to: and login with your University NetID and password.  

Once you are on the ILLiad page, choose an option:

Populate the online form and click Submit Request at the bottom.

You should receive the article (pdf) within 1-2 business days.


Literature Searching, Writing to Publishing

For literature searching, build your concepts using the PICO method.  Once you have mapped your concepts, think about what databases are appropriate for your topic(s).  To refresh your memory about searching principles, look back to the Searching Principles section.

In regard to systematic reviews, below are the most commonly searched databases, but often others are searched as well:

Often, people make the mistake of thinking that they are performing a systematic review because they are "systematically" going through the literature.  Systematic reviews are not only a specific type of publication, they are also a specific process of research/writing that aims to answer a specific clinical question/outcome.  Below are the most common types of reviews that Discovery projects entail:

  • Systematic reviews:  generally take 6 months to more than a year, depending on the topic, from beginning to end.  If you are looking at a very specific topic, it may be feasible to complete the searching portion within 2 months, but again, it depends on how specific your topic is.
  • Scoping reviews: in regards to the literature searching, there is little difference, but the end result is different than a systematic review.  With a scoping review, you are not looking to answer a specific answer.  You may be addressing several issues and summarizing what you find.

Emory University subscribes to Nature Masterclasses.  They are a series of online tutorials created by various editors of Nature journals that discuss the entire article process from writing, submitting to a journal, and the publication process.  To access Nature Masterclasses:

Which journal you should submit your article?  More than likely, your faculty member or Primary Investigator (PI) will have a few journals in mind that he/she would like to submit your article.  If he/she does not, what is the best way to determine which journal would be interested in your article?  You can use Web of Science to see what topics are most published in what journals.    

Below is an example.  I ran a search related to Kawaski Disease within the last 5 years.

When I got to the results page, I selected "Analyze Results."

Then I selected "Source Titles" to see which journals published on Kawasaki Disease.

Citation & Data Management

Learning a citation management program is essential to help build your own digital library and to streamline the bibliography process.  While there are numerous citation management programs available, the following 3 are probably the best well known:


Emory University has a site license for the citation management program EndNote.  You can download and install EndNote from the Software Express server with your University NetID and password. For Mac users running Big Sur, you will have to download EndNote 20 from the Software Express server.

For additional information regarding EndNote, visit the WHSC Library's EndNote page.



There are other open source (free) citation management programs available like Mendeley and Zotero.  Please visit the citation management page for more information.



Emory University Licenses Covidence, a tool that helps with the literature review process from deduplication of records, to the screening process, all the way to the extraction process.  Covidence is available to all Emory faculty, staff, and students.  Non-Emory individuals working on Emory projects can be added to a project, once an account has been established.