3. How do I access the evidence?

3.2. For vets in practice

4.2 For vets in practice

What are the best options for accessing evidence if you are a vet in practice?

Veterinary practices and individual veterinarians need to investigate practical affordable strategies to access the best available evidence.

In human medicine in the UK, doctors rely on National Health Service (NHS) library services to provide access to much of the evidence they need for EBM. The lack of an equivalent to the NHS in the veterinary community means that there is no national body to pay for access to the databases and peer-reviewed journals that hold some of the most useful scientific evidence, and so alternative routes must be found. This is one of the key challenges for members of the veterinary profession looking to take EBVM forward.

Here is a great article by Jake Orlowitz from Wikipedia that offers advice on getting access, including how to find open access journals and free legal copies of journal articles online: You’re a Researcher Without a Library: What Do You Do?

In summary, some of the key options for veterinarians to consider are listed below.

Database options

Use the free databases to search the evidence

PubMed and PubAg are both free to search, but of course many of the articles they index will still be behind paywalls. But they would be good places to start if you have limited access to veterinary databases. Google Scholar is another free option.

A cheaper alternative to CAB Abstracts

The key database, CAB Abstracts, is costly, and for this reason the publishers, CABI, have created a derivative product that is more affordable for veterinary practices:

  • VetMed Resource contains a sub-set of the records in CAB Abstracts selected for their relevance to vets. It is said to have a similar percentage coverage of the veterinary journals to CAB Abstracts. The only loss might be that it does not include some interdisciplinary journals that might be relevant to some veterinary questions (e.g. relating to agriculture and the environment).

Investigate library access

If you are looking to create an evidence synthesis or do a systematic search of the literature, you should consider joining a library that can give you the access you need, or that has librarians or information professionals who can manage the search and retrieval for you.

In the UK, RCVS Knowledge Library & Information Services aims to support veterinarians in their EBVM by providing individuals with access to veterinary databases and journals for a membership fee. The Information Specialists offer a literature search and document supply service, which gives practitioners the opportunity to conduct systematic searches of the veterinary literature.

This may well prove an economical way for vets and vet nurses worldwide to gain access to the key databases and full-text articles. Members acquire access to most veterinary journals, including Veterinary Clinics of North America, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and Veterinary Surgery. Even if you are not a member, the RCVS Knowledge Library can provide you with copies of articles at a cheaper rate than most pay-per-article options on publisher websites. If the RCVS Knowledge Library cannot provide access to the article you need, it can usually get it from another library.

If you are a student, staff, or faculty at a university, your university login can provide the physical and online library resources and services. These include journal and bibliographic database subscriptions and assistance from professional librarians. Depending on the university, adjunct faculty may also qualify for library benefits.

Many libraries allow those without membership to use the library, whether they are residents of the area, or visiting. For example, in the UK, visitors to the Oxford University Libraries may apply for a reader card for a fee. In the US, land-grant status universities often allow visitors to use the resources in person at no cost.

Ask your public library what bibliographic databases and online journals are provided. Sometimes veterinary journals are included in interdisciplinary packages that the library subscribes to!

For a small fee many public libraries can order many different publications, including journal articles, for you.

Some offer national schemes to help get access to subscription resources. For example, vets resident in Scotland should be able to access some eResources by registering with the National Library of Scotland . Anyone can request a British Library Reader Pass and use materials while at the library in London.

The International Directory of Veterinary Medical Libraries is available from the Veterinary Medical Libraries Caucus of the Medical Library Association.

Consider benefits of your professional membership

Most vets and vet nurses have at least one professional membership, and benefits may include journal or database access.

Ask what your membership provides

Be proactive

Tell them EBVM support is important to you

Lobby for additional benefits

Examples of member benefits

Pay for access

Subscribe to key journals or pay-per-view

As a practice or individual, once you have identified the journal titles that publish the best evidence in your field of practice, you could set up an online subscription (which would often enable you to search the backfiles as well as the current issue). Failing that, you could just set a budget to pay-per-view for the articles you need.