Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Clinical and Research Searching on the Wild Side: Exploring the Veterinary Literature

Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Clinical and Research Searching on the Wild Side: Exploring the Veterinary Literature

Article excerpt

Zoological medicine furthers the health and well-being of captive and free-ranging wild animals. Effective information retrieval of the zoological medicine literature demands searching multiple databases, conference proceedings, and organization websites using a wide variety of keywords and controlled vocabulary. Veterinarians, residents, students, and the librarians who serve them must have patience for multiple search iterations to capture the majority of the available knowledge. The complexities of thorough literature searches are more difficult for nondomestic animal clinical cases and research reviews as demonstrated by three search requests involving poisonous snakes, a gorilla, and spiders. Expanding and better disseminating the knowledgebase of zoological medicine will make veterinary searching easier.



The William Rand Kenan, Jr. Library of Veterinary Medicine, located at the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), is a branch of the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries. The library provides literature search support, publication advice, and information literacy educational outreach to the students, residents, faculty, and staff of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at NCSU. The CVM offers a threeyear residency program in zoological medicine [1], the primary objective of which is to assure the clinical competency of residents in zoological medicine and to prepare them for the successful completion of all steps of the certification process leading to diplomate status in the American College of Zoological Medicine (ACZM) [2].

According to the mission statement of ACZM [2], the discipline of zoological medicine integrates principles of ecology, conservation, and veterinary medicine and applies them to wild animals in natural and artificial environments (e.g., zoos and aquariums) to further the health and well-being of captive and free-ranging wild animals. As zoo and wildlife veterinarians, teachers, researchers, government officials, and administrators of other relevant programs, ACZM diplomates foster high-quality medical care for nondomestic animals and participate in discovering new knowledge in zoological medicine and disseminating this knowledge to the veterinary profession and public. This effort to create and share knowledge supports the secondary objective of NCSU's CVM residency program, which focuses on exposing the resident to the fundamentals of clinical research. In line with this objective, residents are required to prepare seven papers for publication, which can include case reports, but at least one paper must be a prospective research report. The residency program also requires formal presentation of cases and /or research at appropriate scientific meetings.

The three cases discussed in this paper were prompted by this emphasis on authoring cases and research reports. These three cases as a group provide an introduction to the complexities of searching in veterinary medicine in general and searching for information on nondomesticated species in particular. Several databases provide core support for literature searching in zoological medicine (Table 1). While some of the clinical problems addressed in zoological medicine will be familiar to human medical expert searchers, the variety of databases, the need to search for particular species, and the international nature of the literature all add to the complexity of animal health searches. Due to this complexity, more time will likely be required to retrieve relevant articles. In many cases, the small amount of relevant literature means that the searcher will use or share all the literature found, rather than focus on evaluating the validity of the articles to narrow the output further. Often, limiting to certain study designs or publication types is not necessary, unless there is a great deal of literature on a topic.

Conference proceedings are very important in veterinary medicine. Many papers never transition from the conference presentation level to journal article publication. …

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