From abstract to article

When you are looking for information on a clinical or research question, one of the best and most commonly used resources is MEDLINE. It is the world’s largest bibliographic database of biomedical literature, created and maintained by the US National Library of Medicine. 

You can search MEDLINE using a variety of interfaces, including the publically available PubMed ( However, locating abstracts of articles is just the first step. How do you access full text articles? PubMed displays both abstracts of articles and links to free articles, and College members can access an additional 2000 licensed journals from three major vendors—Elsevier, EBSCO, and Ovid—by using the College library’s web site as an avenue to PubMed. 

How do you do this? On the library’s home page ( select “Search Medline, etc” and then select “Medline via PubMed with full text articles.” After logging in you will be directed to the PubMed site. Perform your search and, after you identify relevant citations, display the citations in the “Abstract” mode and look for an icon indicating that the article is either free or is provided by the College. The latter is identified by this blue button. 

Of course, some of the articles of interest will not be part of the library’s electronic subscriptions. Acquiring the full article is still very likely and generally quite fast. Simply select the citation of the article you want and e-mail it to the College library ( or any other library with which you have an affiliation using the e-mail function from the “Send to” drop-down menu. Wherever possible, our staff will e-mail copies from in-house or local sources often within 24 hours.

—Karen MacDonell
—Robert Melrose
—Judy Neill
College Librarians

Karen MacDonell, PhD, MLIS, Robert Melrose, Judy Neill. From abstract to article. BCMJ, Vol. 51, No. 7, September, 2009, Page(s) 288 - College Library.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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