A lot of the vaccine research that folks do is on PubMed.
Using PubMed to Do Research About Vaccines
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“PubMed comprises more than 27 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.”
Can You Use PubMed to Do Research About Vaccines?
Just like anyone can put up a website or Facebook page and say whatever they want, almost anyone can get a study or article published in a journal and get it indexed in PubMed.
While PubMed is an index with over 27 million citations, it doesn’t do anything to evaluate those citations to see if they include studies with design flaws, conflicts of interest, or are simply fraudulent.
That means that you need to know that a study does not get a badge of legitimacy for simply being in PubMed!
And it does not automatically mean that the evidence and conclusions from the article are of high quality just because it is listed in PubMed.
So use PubMed to find articles to help you do research about vaccines, but then read the article from beginning to end, not just the abstract, and make sure it is an article you can trust:
- Was it published in a legitimate journal, like Vaccine or Pediatrics, and some of these high-impact journals? (good)
- Was it published in a predatory journals? (bad)
- Does it involve simply looking at VAERS data? (usually bad)
- Is it written by folks with a conflict of interest that makes the article biased? (bad)
- Has it already been refuted by other people because it wasn’t designed properly or had other major flaws? (bad)
- Is it written by people who have expertise on the topic they are writing about? (good)
- Has it been retracted? (very bad)
- Is it a case report (a glorified anecdote), case series, or animal study (lowest quality evidence) or a systemic review or meta analyses (highest quality evidence)?
- Is it a case control study, cohort study, and randomized controlled trial, which lie somewhere in between case reports and reviews on the hierarchy of evidence scale?
Are you ready to get educated about vaccines?
That’s great, but PubMed shouldn’t be your first stop, or your only stop.
As you do your research or get bombarded with a list of links or abstracts from PubMed, remember that there is a hierarchy of evidence to consider before deciding if a paper or study is really evidence of anything. And finding a case report, study on rats, or an invitro study won’t win you an argument about vaccines when there are randomized control trials and systemic reviews on the other side.
What to Know About Using PubMed to Do Research About Vaccines
PubMed is a giant index of journal articles, but simply being in PubMed doesn’t mean that an article or study is reliable or of high quality, whether it is about vaccines, a vaccine-preventable disease, or any other medical topic.
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