A warm welcome to our Year 1 medical students. The primary goal of the medical library is to support the research needs of medical undergraduate students by conducting optional information literacy workshops and supplementing you with user guides.

As Year 1 students, you will be exposed to a range of basic research and library skills at your orientation and during your course of study. You will learn how to acquire these basic information literacy, writing and citation skills from  a variety of TBL exercises (group learning), self-directed learning and attending optional information literacy organised for you. See figure 1.

Fig 1: Year 1 Key Elements Research & Library Skills, Year 1, Medical Library ©

Global Information Literacy Standards

Information Literacy is important throughout the world and many interesting programs are being developed. Here are a few links on information literacy standards and definitions.

Students are encouraged to engage their medical librarians if they require further guidance or wish to have training. Simply, drop us an  e-mail at or contact us at 6592 1990.


ACTIVITY 1: Let us know your research needs better 

Complete this survey questionnaire developed for Year 1 students. Your feedback will help us evaluate and understand your research needs.



Your medical library will guide you to acquire basic information literacy and writing skills using examples of clinical case scenarios from your Year 1 textbooks (Refer to Year 1 e-books from our Pinterest webpage). We want to educate our students to see the link between basic library, research and writing skills as an integrative approach to their Year 1 MBBS curriculum (see Fig 2 below)

Years 1 and 2: Integrated Science in a Medical Context


Fig 2: Curriculum integration with research and library skills 
(Adapted from: LKC Medicine Curriculum MBBS, Year 1)


Here’s the search strategy cycle you could refer to when performing a literature review for your research question. See Fig 3 for more information.


Fig 3: Search Strategy Cycle for Literature Review, Medical Library ©

There are accompanying descriptors for students to understand each stage better. To apply the use of this framework, refer to activity 2. An exercise question is given based on the cardiovascular system (coronary heart disease).  Questions are posed and accompanied with librarian tips for students to experience basic search skills and basic writing skills from these activities.

You need to know:

(1) What is Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)? 

A MeSH term is a medical subject heading, or descriptor, as defined in the MeSH thesaurus

MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) is the (U.S.) National Library of Medicine’s controlled vocabulary thesaurus. It consists of sets of terms naming descriptors in a hierarchical structure that permits searching at various levels of specificity

MeSH descriptors are arranged in both an alphabetic and a hierarchical structure. At the most general level of the hierarchical structure are very broad headings such as “Anatomy” or “Mental Disorders.” More specific headings are found at more narrow levels of the eleven-level hierarchy, such as “Ankle” and “Conduct Disorder.” There are 22,568 descriptors in MeSH. (Adapted:

Go to the tutorial :

Refer to these resources for further reading:


(2) What is PICO model?

Refer to the EBM Approach – Step 1 for more information about the PICO. You can also watch these short EBM videos conducted by Professor Paul Glasziou from the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM).

EBM video 1:  Formation of PICO, PO and PO questions. 

Source: [Evidence-Based-Education]. (2009, September 22). Evidence-Based Medicine in Practice – Appraisal of Clinical Trials #1. [Video File]. Retrieved from


EBM video 2:  Feasibility of introducing evidence-based techniques into normal medical practice.

Source: [Evidence-Based-Education]. (2009, September 17). Evidence-Based Medicine in Practice – Appraisal of Clinical Trials #2. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Refer to these resources for further reading:



"Explain the difference between Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and risk of coronary heart disease". (Source: Medical Physiology. Principles of Clinical Medicine  - Rodney A. Rhoades; David R.Bell. Publication: 2013).

(a) What are the MeSH terms identified for this topic?

Library Tips to approach part (a):

  1. Use the MeSH on demand tool. Copy and paste the question in the text box. See results for key concepts.
  2. Identify the synonyms for each key concept.
  3. You can create a simple table shown below to organise your key concepts and synonyms.


Table 1: Key concept and MeSH terms Matrix

(b) How do you conduct your search using a medical database (e.g: Medline -Ovid)?

Library Tips to approach part (b):

Medline (Ovid) & CINAHL

  1. Select Ovid MEDLINE (R) from 1946 to present
  2. Conduct a basic search – (e.g; type LDL and HDL and Coronary heart disease). See results. Select articles. Read and review.
  3. Attempt to search for relevant articles from at least 2 medical databases – Medline OVID & CINAHL
  4. Click here to Advanced Search Ovid tutorial
  5. Click here to CINAHL/MeSH Headings Feature in EBSCOhost – Tutorial

(c) How many relevant articles did you retrieve? How do you evaluate them?

Library Tips to approach part (c):

  1. You can view relevant articles from the MeSH browser (key concept search). See picture below.mesh-relavant-articles
  2. For example you selected this article: HDL-A molecule with a multi-faceted role in coronary artery disease. [Review] from Medline-OVID. You will only see the abstract.
  3. For full text article, select on the Findit@NTU icon (right). You will see the links given to retrieve full text PDF / online article. See picture below. find-itntu
  4. Use the radar-test checklist to evaluate the quality of the article. You can do this for 1 article as a first time experience.
  5. Locate 1 grey literature source (e.g.: MOH  – Screening for cardiovascular disease and risk factors). Use the AACODS technique to evaluate information.

(d) How do you write your answer using at least 5-7 selected articles? (Hint: Limit answer to less than 500 words)

Library Tips to approach part (d):

  1. Read information presented by the top 3 medical schools from the world
  2. Review the information from selected 5-7 articles. Paraphrase information to avoid plagiarism.
  3. Review the answer found from  original source (Medical Physiology. Principles of Clinical Medicine  – Rodney A. Rhoades; David R.Bell. Publication: 2013) to see the style of writing to match basic level of clinical reasoning skill.
  4. Spend some time reading materials about paraphrasing and plagiarizing from top 3 medical schools in the world

Additionally a good read from Imperial College London – Plagiarism awareness.

BONUS CLIP! Avoiding Plagiarism: Writing With Integrity

Watch this video by Dr Candace Hastings from Texas A&M University on how to avoid plagiarism

Source: [tamuwritingcenter]. (2015, Feb 28). Avoiding Plagiarism: Writing With Integrity. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Any other good writing tips?


BONUS CLIP! How do you calculate highly cited journals?

Watch this video on Journal Impact Factor metric – learn how it’s calculated, and how it’s used.

Source: [Web of Science Training]. (2017, June 23). Journal Citation Reports – Journal Impact Factor. [Video File]. Retrieved from


Understanding clinical papers / David Bowers, Allan House, David Owens & Bridgette Bewick. Publication Date: 2014

Winning the publications game : how to write a scientific paper without neglecting your patients / Tim Albert ; foreword by Matthias Egger and Nicola Low. Publication Date: 2009


Learning clinical reasoning [electronic resource] / Jerome P. Kassirer, John B. Wong, Richard I. Kopelman. Publication Date: 2010



Internet research skills : how to do your literature search and find research information online / Niall Ó Dochartaigh. Publication Date: 2007



Improving student information search : a metacognitive approach / Barbara Blummer and Jeffrey M. Kenton. Publication Date: 2014


Prepared by: Rebecca David (Senior Assistant Manager, Medical Library)