Skip to Main Content

Physician Assistant Program: Getting Started

Selected Resources for physician assistant students.

Starting your research

  Important Steps to Success!

     1.  Start early!  Research is a process.  The most important aspect of doing research is giving yourself enough time to do a thorough and adequate search of the available literature.  Do not wait until a few days before your assignment is due to begin looking for information resources.   We might not have that perfect article in our library, but have to find it for you through Interlibrary Loan.  It is never too early to start the research process!

      2.  Consider search terms.  Using effective search terms is the key to getting good results.  Check out our search tips below for help.

      3.  Locate and retrieve materials.  Choose good resources. You will find a several resources in this guide to help you make the selection of where to find information from choosing the right database to books to government resources just to name a few. Gather a collection of materials that you can later sort through and narrow down what you will actually use for your project. Note: keep track of the citation information for your reference list! Helpful tools are creating accounts in the various databases to collect resources and reference management software such as Zotero.

Find Articles!

So, what do we mean when we talk about Databases?

Databases are the first place to look for articles. You can search by topic or keywords.  Databases usually have information about an article (such as the title author, name of journal or magazine in which the article appeared) and they may also contain a summary (abstract) of the article. 

Most databases have a complete copy of the articles (called full text).  In this case there is a link to a PDF or HTMLdocument.

Why Do I Need to Cite?

Why do I need to cite resources?  If you do not cite sources you have used for a speech, paper, or presentation, you could be found guilty of plagiarism.  Plagiarism is using someone else's work as your own. Some examples include:

  • buying a paper or downloading one from the Internet and submitting it as your own
  • copying and pasting information from the Internet or a database and not citing the source
  • quoting someone or summarizing someone else's ideas but not citing that person.

Fortunately, MU Libraries can assist you with citing your sources.  In addition to many of the full style guides available in the library for you to consult; there are a number of free online quick style guide tools available with a click from this page. The PA Program at Mercyhurst uses APA Style.

 Check out the APA tab on this guide above!

APA Style

Perdue's OWL

Copyright Guide




Zotero is free, easy-to-use software to help you collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources.

User Guide

Finding information for your Assignment

Interlibrary Loan

Find a journal we don't have at Mercyhurst? You can request articles and other materials through our Interlibrary Loan service provided by the Mercyhurst Libraries.

Interlibrary Loan
Our ILL service allows you to request articles, books, chapters from books, and conference proceedings to request from libraries all over the country. Choose the material you'd like to request, log in using your Name and Mercyhurst ID Number, then fill out the form as completly as possible and click 'Submit This Request'.

*Please check the library holdings before requesting materials through this service!

Smart Search Tips

1. Break your topic into concepts.
    e.g. The effect of diet on a person's
                  Concept = Diet
                  Concept = Health

2. Consider alternative keywords:
          diet, nutrition
          health, wellbeing

3.  Use truncation to search for variations of words:
           infan* (infants,infantile, infancy)
           child* (child, children,childhood) 

4.  Use AND to narrow the search:
          diet AND health
          nurs* AND best practice

5.  Use OR to broaden the search:
          diet OR nutrition
          child* OR infan* OR toddler

6.  Use quotation marks for phrases:
          " pulmonary embolism"
          " evidence based nursing"

7.  Beware of differences between
     English and American spelling 
     and terminology: