Now that you’ve learned why it’s important to avoid doing things a certain way just because they’ve always been done that way, it’s time to learn how to do your research so you can begin making changes. If you missed my last post, click here for a refresher.
I spend quite a bit of time lurking around veterinary-related social media channels, and I see so many frustrated technicians who don’t feel like they have the tools or resources to convince their bosses that change is needed. The number one request I see is for other people to provide literature to back up their claims.
I think the main contributing factor for this is a discrepancy between the education that technicians and veterinarians receive. Two important aspects of this is finding and evaluating research. I’ll discuss evaluating research in the next post, but for now, let’s focus on the act of researching.
Many people feel intimidated by performing research, and it’s definitely a skill that takes some time to perfect. However, if you follow these simple guidelines, you can start to accumulate the scientific papers you need to help make your case.
Getting past the research paywall
The major roadblock to good research is a paywall. It can be difficult to find full-text papers without being asked to shell out $20 a pop.
But, with a little finagling, it’s possible to get access to full-text papers for free. Hang on—you’re about to get street smart about free research.
- Use Google Scholar or Wiley Online Library to find papers relevant to the topic you’re interested in.
- Some currently published journals are now open-access, and full-text articles are available for free, including the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
- If you can’t find it for free, email the authors of the paper. Researchers typically don’t get paid for what they publish. The money from the paywall goes directly into the pocket of the middle man. That means that most authors would be happy to send you a copy directly if you ask nicely. (And, you might even get them to answer some of your questions directly, too!)
- SciHub is a valuable resource for many in the scientific research community. Copy and paste the title of the article in the search bar, or, for my more tech-savvy readers, follow their directions to create the Chrome extension. Just don’t tell the FBI…
- Other reputable online sources include professionally written and edited companies and websites, including: DVM360, NAVTA, and Merck Veterinary Manual.
Why you should be careful with Google
While I have had some success copying and pasting the name of the article directly into the regular version of Google (you never know… someone somewhere may have uploaded the full copy at some point), Googling on the regular internet can be dangerous. Not in a NSFW way, but because Google tailors your search results based on what you’ve already Googled. Google is like Santa: It sees everything, and it never forgets. Even if you’re not “signed in,” even if you use incognito mode, Google knows it’s you.
Besides being scary in a big-brother way, Google will forever tailor your search results to fit your bias. When we’re talking about trying to find good-quality, unbiased information, that’s a bad thing. So, try to stay away from plain-Googling anything research-related.
If you are interested in learning more about how to Google like a pro, here’s a link to Harvard University’s A Scholar’s Guide to Google.
And, one final note: Do not use uncited blogs or question-answering websites, like Yahoo or Reddit, as sources.
Don’t miss my next post in this series so you can learn how to evaluate research for its quality.
Erin is an ECC specialty certified technician living in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado. She shares her home and heart with her boyfriend, Bradford, and their chatty kitty, Kevin. While dangerously close to a workaholic, Erin and Bradford still find time to travel together. Erin also enjoys being an amateur home chef, taking photographs, and riding her horse, Katie. Professionally, Erin is passionate about the subject of technician empowerment.