VCU LibrariesResearch Guides

Pharmacy Experiential Education

We hope this guide will make your time on rotations a little easier by providing quick access to VCU Libraries resources. If you get stuck, call or email us!

Library Things to Remember

Getting Articles and Books

The majority of items you need will be available through the VCU Libraries' electronic subscriptions, so going through our website should get you everything you need.  If you come across an item that you need and VCU Libraries doesn't have it, you may request the item through ILLiad.  Please make sure your contact information is correct - don't forget to change your address if your rotations' addresses change.  If you have any problems with ILLiad, call us at (804) 828-0630.

Get It @ VCU

When you are searching any of our databases and come across an article that you want, look for the yellow Get It @ VCU button.  Clicking this button will connect you to the resource through the VCU Libraries' subscriptions or give you the option of connecting to ILLiad to request the item. 


Because you'll be primarily accessing the library remotely, it's important that you memorize your eID and password.  You will be asked to sign in with these credentials when accessing VCU Libraries resources off-campus, so don't forget them.  If you ever have issues with your eID, you can try troubleshooting yourself by using the eID Password Self-service Reset Tool or contacting Technology Services at (804) 828-2227.

School of Pharmacy Resources

Don't forget the School of Pharmacy provides access to other resources such as Facts and Comparisons and Lexicomp Online.

UpToDate Off-Campus Registration

Primary Literature Defined

What is primary literature?

  • It is where the researcher published their findings first (i.e., the primary place the data is found).
  • In science, it's usually a journal article outlining methodology, data, results, conclusions.
  • It will always have a References section.
  • It is the researcher's own words, not summarized by anyone else.
  • It is found in scholarly journals such as Pharmacotherapy or the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

Secondary (review) articles summarize other people's primary literature articles. These are a good place to start to understand a topic, however.   Examples are the Annual Reviews series, many books in the sciences, or any quality article that has the word "review" in the title.

Newspaper articles, Newsweek, etc. are NOT primary literature. News articles however help identify current issues or organizations that can be followed up in other sources.

Natural History and Smithsonian are popular literature, not peer-reviewed, and are partly review and partly news, and scientific in scope.

To search for primary literature through VCU Libraries, start at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences website.  PubMed and Web of Science are linked on the front page and are two good places to start your search for primary literature.  Other databases can be found by following the Databases A-Z link.  If you have a specific journal in mind, use the Journal Finder to search for the title.

If You Get Stuck

If you get lost using one of the resources, please contact: