Library Research Help

Citations are used to identify and locate publications (book, journal article, video, etc.). They usually include title, author, publisher and date of publication. SMU instructors often require students to cite their sources using one of three styles. To make the process easier, SMU provides its students with the use of RefWorks, an online research management tool that generates citations and bibliographies in a range of styles.

Citation Styles

Distinct citation styles have been developed by professional and scholarly associations including the APA (American Psychological Association), the AMA (American Medical Association), and the ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors).

An instructor will commonly ask you to adhere to a specific style when citing sources in a research paper or essay. This can be challenging, as each style contains its own formatting rules for citations, both in the body of the paper (in-text citations) and on the reference page. Your best defense is a good offense—be familiar with the styles most SMU instructors require: APA, AMA, and the ICMJE's URM.

Here are some useful resources on citations:

APA citation style

AMA citation style

Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors ICMJE)

Citing Government Publications


RefWorks is an online research management, writing, and collaboration tool designed to help researchers easily gather, manage, store, and share all types of information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies in APA, AMA, or Uniform style. SMU students, staff members, and faculty members may sign up for a free RefWorks account. RefWorks is supported by all SMU libraries.

Here are some useful resources on using RefWorks:

Other Free Bibliographic Tools

Video Introductions to Copyright

Copyright Clearance CenterCreative Commons
An overview of copyright basics from the Copyright Clearance CenterAn overview of Creative Commons and how it differs from Copyright

SMU Copyright Policy
It is the intent of Samuel Merritt University to comply with the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S. Code, Sect. 101, et seq.). The University directs faculty, staff, and students to refrain from copying copyrighted works unless the action is authorized by: (a) specific exemptions in the copyright law, (b) the principle of Fair Use, or (c) licenses or written permission from the copyright owner. The Director of the John A. Graziano Memorial Library shall provide guidelines to ensure compliance with the law.

Fair Use
"Fair use is a copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism." (Stanford University Libraries)

Copyright Guidelines
These guidelines for use in teaching apply to resources the Library doesn't own or subscribe to, including resources acquired via interlibrary loan:

  • No more than two articles from a single journal issue
  • No more than three articles from a single journal title in a five year span
  • No more than two chapters from a book or 15/% of the total book, whichever is less


North Carolina State University has prepared for faculty a list of questions and answers on copyright in the classroom and online. Here are some you may find particularly relevant:

  1. What can I show (display or perform) in class? What is the difference between "displaying" and "performing"?
  2. I own several films and would like to show clips from each of them in my class. May I? If so, I would like to copy the clips onto a single dvd for ease of presentation. May I?
  3. Can I show a movie in class that I rented from Blockbuster?
  4. What kinds of works can I incorporate into a powerpoint presentation? Charts, photos, graphics, cartoons, sounds?


These resources are recommended for general information pertaining to copyright and fair use. Specific questions about copyright compliance and fair use should be addressed to Library Director Hai-Thom Sota.

CINAHL offers many ways to limit your search results, including by peer-reviewed journals, nurse authors, randomized controlled trials, date range, language and more.

Follow the steps below to limit your search results. We suggest you NOT use the full-text limit, which would limit your results to only full-text articles available in CINAHL and wouldn't include the full-text journal articles available through the SMU Library using the Find It @ SMU link.

Step 1. Perform your search.


Step 2: Click the "Edit" option to the right of the search set you want to limit.


Step 3: The "Edit Search" screen will appear. Scroll down to the "Limit your results" section.


Step 4: Review and select the limits you would like to apply to your search. Examples of commonly used limits are noted in the illustration below.

  • You can select multiple limits, but selecting too many limits may narrow your search too much. You may want to start with selecting one limit and then clicking "Edit" again to add and view results for each additional limit. You can also use "Edit" to remove limits.
  • Note the warning for full-text limit. Using this option will limit to full-text only available in CINAHL and will exclude many full-text articles available through SMU Library.


Step 5: Scroll back to the top of the "Edit Search" screen and click the "Save" button to apply your limits to your search.


Step 6: After clicking "Save", a smaller number of search results are displayed.


Have questions or want more tips or training? Contact your SMU Librarians!

What's the difference between PubMed and...

  • Medline?

    Medline is the largest subset of PubMed. PubMed is larger and more up-to-date as it includes citations to articles that have been not yet been assigned MESH headings, have been supplied directly by the publisher, or are outside of the scope of Medline journals.

  • PubMed Central?

    PubMed Central is PubMed’s repository for freely available full text articles. When you search PubMed, you are searching the contents of PubMed Central as well as the proprietary literature. When you see the notation "Free Article" in a PubMed citation, that means the article is from PubMed Central.

    For more information, see the NLM Fact Sheet MEDLINE, PubMed, and PMC (PubMed Central): How are they different?


    PubMed is much larger than CINAHL. PubMed goes back further in time and makes a point of indexing the worldwide literature of the health sciences, while CINAHL (Cumulated Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) emphasizes nursing and the allied health disciplines. In addition to journal articles, CINAHL includes books, book chapters, dissertations, and computer programs.

    There is an overlap in the journals indexed by these two databases. When searching CINAHL, you can limit your search to material NOT indexed by Medline by completing your search, then selecting the Edit option and then "exclude Medline records."

    If you wish to do a complete literature review, we recommend that you search both PubMed and CINAHL.

Evidence-based practice is the "conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients" (Sackett, DL, Rosenberg WM, Gray JA, et al. BMJ. 1996 312(7023):71-2).

Filtered Resources

Systematic Reviews / Meta-Analyses

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Consists of detailed, structured topic reviews of hundreds of articles. Teams of experts complete comprehensive literature reviews, evaluate the literature, and present summaries of the findings of the best studies. Published by the International Cochrane Collaboration.

Systematic Reviews are also searchable in MEDLINE:

In PubMed (link is for PubMed@SMU): Click on "Clinical Queries" on the left side of the screen; Select "Find Systematic Reviews" and enter your search query.

Critically-Appraised Topics

National Guideline Clearinghouse

A comprehensive database of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and related documents produced by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, in partnership with the American Medical Association and the American Association of Health Plans. Updated weekly.

Note: Guideline evidence varies from expert opinion to high levels of evidence.

Critically-Appraised Individual Articles


Unfiltered Resources

PubMed (link is for PubMed@SMU)

To limit your PubMed search to the best evidence-producing studies: Click on "Clinical Queries" (on the left side of the screen). This specialized search is intended for clinicians and has built-in search "filters." Four study categories--therapy, diagnosis, etiology, prognosis--are provided, and you may indicate whether you wish your search to be more sensitive (i.e., include most relevant articles but probably including some less relevant ones) or more specific (i.e., including mostly relevant articles but probably omit a few).

Ovid Medline

To limit your Ovid MEDLINE search to the best evidence-producing studies: Clinical Queries (See PubMed) is searchable in Ovid; click on the "Limits" icon.


International coverage of the professional and academic literature in psychology, medicine, psychiatry, nursing, sociology, education, pharmacology, physiology, linguistics, and other areas.

To limit your PsycINFO search to the best evidence-producing studies: Click on the "Limits" icon to use "Clinical Queries" or limit to "methodology" types.


Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature

To limit your CINAHL search to the best evidence-producing studies: Click on the "Limits" icon to use "Clinical Queries" or limit to "Research" or other "publication" types (i.e., systematic review).

Background Information/Expert Opinion

Note: Evidence in these resources may vary from expert opinion to high levels of evidence.


A clinical information resource, which offers up-to-date, fully referenced expert answers to patient-care, diagnosis, and treatment questions. Topic reviews are written by recognized authorities who review the topic, synthesize the evidence, summarize key findings, and provide specific recommendations.

Evidence-Based Medicine Information Sites

Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (Oxford University)

The Centre promotes evidence-based health care and provide support and resources to anyone who wants to make use of them. Includes the EBM Toolbox, an assortment of materials which are very useful for practitioners of EBM, and EBM Teaching Materials, including PowerPoint presentations.

Users' Guides to Evidence-Based Practice

From the University of Alberta's Centre for Health Evidence. Includes the complete set of EBM Users' Guides originally published as a series in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Evidence-Based Medicine Tutorials

Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine

From Duke University Medical Center Library and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Health Sciences Library.

SUNY Health Sciences Evidence-Based Medicine Course

EBM Pyramid and EBM Page Generator. (c) Copyright 2006-2011. Trustees of Dartmouth College and Yale University. All Rights Reserved.
Produced by Jan Glover, David Izzo, Karen Odato and Lei Wang.

When searching some of the library’s databases, the Find It @ SMU button button will appear underneath the article citation or abstract:


Click this button, and if SMU subscribes to the journal, you’ll see the full-text article as an HTML or PDF document.

Why didn’t the article open as a PDF?

Some articles initially display as HTML. To get the PDF, click the “Article as PDF” link. If the link is slow to load, click the “additional resources related to this” link to go to the Journal/E-Book Finder page, then click the “Article” link to open the full-text article.


Why didn’t the article open when I clicked the Find It @ SMU button?

  1. If the article was published recently, the full-text may not be online yet. Citations often appear in databases before the full-text is available. Click the “Article” link, then navigate to the article you want.
  2. There was a typo or error in the citation. Find It @ SMU uses the citation information to link to the article. If there's incorrect information in the citation, it won't be able to link properly to the full-text. In these cases, it may link to the journal publisher's website and you can search for the article there.
  3. Access to the article may have recently changed from full-text to citation only.
  4. The library may not subscribe to the full-text of the journal.

Please report any problems you encounter by clicking here or clicking the “Report a Problem” link.


Why did I end up on the journal's home page or its table of contents instead of at the article?

Find It @ SMU will get you as close as possible to the article you want. Sometimes the publisher doesn’t provide a direct link to the specific article, so Find It @ SMU takes you to the journal’s table of contents or the home page. You can then click the “Journal” link and navigate to the article you want.


Why isn't there a full-text link for my article?

When there’s no full-text link, either SMU doesn’t subscribe to the full-text version or Find It @ SMU can't link to the full-text yet.

  1. You can click the “Request an Article or a Book” link to request a copy of the article. The citation is automatically entered in the request form, so you only need to fill out the required fields that have a red asterisk (*). We’ll get a PDF of the article and email it to you in 2-5 business days.
  2. You can also double-check the Journal/E-book finder to see if the journal is actually available through the SMU Library.

Please report any problems you encounter by clicking here or clicking the “Report a Problem” link.


To search Google Scholar for articles in journals subscribed to by Samuel Merritt University:

  1. Click the link labeled "Scholar Preferences"
  2. In the box opposite "Library Links," enter Samuel Merritt University
  3. Select Samuel Merritt University from the resulting list
  4. Click "Save Preferences"

Make sure you know about Google Scholar's limitations on coverage and updates.

A PubMed My NCBI account will allow you to save your PubMed searches and citations in the cloud. Create a My NCBI account to save your searches and citations, and then customize this account to limit and link to SMU and free journals.

This guide will help you set up a My NCBI account, create a custom filter and set up icons to limit and link your results to articles immediately available to you as free full text or through the SMU Library. You can learn more about other saving searches and citations, creating alerts, highlighting your search terms and other My NCBI functions with these short My NCBI video tutorials.

Note: You must complete all 4 of these steps in order to link to SMU resources.
Step 1: Login or set up your My NCBI account
Step 2: Link the "Find It @ SMU" button to your account
Step 3: Create a custom filter to limit search results to SMU journals and free full text
Step 4: Use these customized settings in your PubMed searches

Step 1: Login or set up your My NCBI account

  1. Go to the PubMed home page.
  2. Click on Sign in to NCBI.
  3. Login if you have an account.
  4. Or Register for a NCBI account to create your My NCBI account.
  5. You’ll see your login name in upper right corner when logged in.

My NCBI 01
My NCBI 02
My NCBI 03

Step 2: Link the "Find It @ SMU" button to your account
This will allow you to link directly to SMU journals or the article order form directly from your search results.

  1. Click on My NCBI to get to the My NCBI "dashboard."
  2. Click on NCBI Site Preferences.
  3. Click on Outside Tool, under PubMed Preferences.
  4. Click on the letter "S."
  5. Click the radio button for Samuel Merritt University.
  6. Click the Save button.

My NCBI 04
My NCBI 05
My NCBI 06
My NCBI 07

You have now linked the "Find It @ SMU" button to your My NCBI account. This will allow you to link to SMU journals, free full text or the article order form for articles that are not available at SMU Library.

Step 3: Create a custom filter to limit search results to SMU journals and free full text

  1. Click on Filters & Icons, under PubMed Preferences.
  2. Click on Create Custom Filter.
  3. Copy and paste this text into the Query Terms box:
    loprovcasmclib[Filter] OR free full-text[sb]
  4. In the Save Filter As box, name this SMU + free full text.
  5. Click the green Save Filter button.

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My NCBI 10

You have now created the SMU + free full text filter. This will allow you to quickly filter your search results to articles immediately available as free full text or in the SMU Library.

Step 4: Use these customized settings in your PubMed searches
When you have search results on the screen, you can:

  1. Click on PubMed link to start searching.
  2. Click Display settings.
  3. Click the Abstract button.
  4. The Find It @ SMU button will now be visible.
  5. Use the "SMU + free full text" filter to limit your search results to articles quickly available through free sources or the SMU Library.

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Questions? Ask your SMU Librarians!

RefWorks is an online software tool that enables you to collect, organize, and share citations. You can also create bibliographies in the format of your choice.

Samuel Merritt University students who want to use RefWorks must create an account here. Be sure to use your SMU email address when creating your account. You can continue to use this account after you graduate by signing into the account and changing your status to alumni.

If you'd like to continue using the old ("legacy") version, you can sign into that here. You can also upgrade from the old version to the new version there.

Have questions regarding New RefWorks or need some technical support? Email the RefWorks support team or call them at (800) 521-0600 ext. 74440. Support is available Monday–Friday, 5:00am–5:00pm Pacific Time.



This tutorial is a component of the SMILE information literacy course at Samuel Merritt University. SMILE is modeled on the San Francisco State University Library's OASIS tutorial on information literacy. The creators of OASIS generously gave permission to our university to use their materials in developing our course, granting us the ability to augment, modify, rearrange, edit and reorganize the content as appropriate for our needs. The Information Literacy Task Force at Samuel Merritt University accepts full responsibility for the entirety of the SMILE tutorial content but acknowledges the organization, content and images contributed by San Francisco State University.

Whether you're working on a short essay, a term paper, or a thesis, the writing process can be daunting. Luckily, SMU provides numerous resources to help you with all the stages of writing a research paper, from defining your research question to making sure you've formatted your citations correctly.

Getting Started with Your Research

See this brief tutorial for help with defining and narrowing your research question and finding the right sources.

Writing Help and Academic Support Resources

The Office of Academic Support Services provides a range of services to students, including one-on-one and small group writing consultations. Sessions can focus on any stage of the writing process.


Other Writing Resources


Avoiding Plagiarism

Oxford Dictionaries define plagiarism as "the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own."

Considered a violation of the SMU code of ethics, even unintentional plagiarism can result in serious consequences, including course failure, censure, probation, or dismissal. (See the Catalog and Student Handbook, page 97.

Here are some useful resources for learning how to avoid plagiarism:



Turnitin is a plagiarism-checking and online grading software program that is integrated with Canvas. Instructors may ask their students to submit papers to Turnitin for plagiarism evaluation. Turnitin checks submitted papers against billions of web pages, previously submitted student papers, and library databases and publications. Identical passages are flagged in an originality report. Instructors may make originality reports available to students during the draft phase of a paper assignment so that they have an opportunity to correct unintentional plagiarism.


Peer Reviewed Articles

Peer reviewed articles are generally found in scholarly journals. They are evaluated by a group of experts in a particular field to make sure they meet necessary standards before they are published.

Here are some useful resources on peer reviewed articles:


Creating Posters

Poster presentations are created by conference and symposia participants to present research results informally in group sessions. This may be in addition to or in lieu of presenting a paper.

Here are some useful resources on creating posters: