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Reliable sources (research articles) for psychiatric meds?

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MrNevergiveup

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Hey guys, I've got two questions in regard to yielding info online.

1. Do you know where to find reliable sources of information (research are the best)?
2. How do you know they are not biased?
3. Are there ways to see ratings/feedbacks of certain research articles?
 

hamstergang

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You should get used to waiting more than 25 minutes before getting a response. There's no need to bump a thread that's less than a day old.

As for your question, we learn quite a bit through med school and residency where to find information and how to evaluate it. There's quite a lot that can go into an answer here, but I feel that the only way for it to be helpful to you would be for it to be tailored to you. Therefore, I think it would be important for us to know:
1. Who are you? A student, resident, just an interested party? What exposure have you had to research?

2. Are you asking about something specific?
 
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slappy

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Hey guys, I've got two questions in regard to yielding info online.

1. Do you know where to find reliable sources of information (research are the best)?
2. How do you know they are not biased?
3. Are there ways to see ratings/feedbacks of certain research articles?

Sure. Drugs.com, rxlist.com.
 
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scudiera

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hamstergang said:
1. Who are you? A student, resident, just an interested party? What exposure have you had to research?

2. Are you asking about something specific?

A lot of these questions can be answered with some pre-med college classes (our university library frequently held classes on how to research for articles and assess credibility, and my various psych/bio/public health classes required our attendance at these). It says you're "pre-psychology" - I'd highly encourage you to take college pre-med coursework in addition to whatever you need to apply for graduate training in Psychology. If you're a resident or non-MS1 med student, you have some catching up to do. An alternative if you're not in college would just be to see if your local university has a calendar of events and if there's a "Introduction to Literature Searches/Research" type class that you can attend for free. The librarians at a university are often a great source of information!
 
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shan564

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Hey guys, I've got two questions in regard to yielding info online.

1. Do you know where to find reliable sources of information (research are the best)?
2. How do you know they are not biased?
3. Are there ways to see ratings/feedbacks of certain research articles?
Funny, you said you'd ask two questions and then asked three. I agree with the above statements that a good medical school and residency program will give you thorough training on how to evaluate research and determine whether it is reliable. Giving a detailed answer to the question "how do you do it?" would take years and could be the subject of an entire master's degree - the short answer is, "that's part of our years of training."

1. When you need primary research, you search PubMed and find an article that has been thoroughly peer-reviewed, ideally in a respected journal (which would imply that several impartial experts held it to high standards of rigor). When you need the latest clinical guidelines, you go to UpToDate or a similar resource. When you want general principles, you look at a reliable textbook (my favorite is Medscape/Emedicine, which isn't a textbook per se, but might as well be). If that's not enough to answer a clinical question, I might read the APA guidelines or talk to a more senior physician whose opinion I respect.

2. Certain sources have reputations for being unbiased. UpToDate and Medscape are such examples, since they are written by experts, cite detailed sources, and don't have financial conflicts of interest. Drug company literature, to the contrary, is obviously biased and should not be trusted blindly without evaluating other unbiased sources. Journal articles should be evaluated for bias by looking at the reputation and/or impact factor of the journal (higher-impact journals will have a more rigorous peer review process to ensure scientific quality), the financial conflicts of interests of the authors (which are required to be reported with the journal), and the methods of the study itself to ensure that they accounted for potential confounding factors (ignoring certain key confounders is an easy way for a drug company to manipulate the literature).

3. Some journals (only the minority) come with a numeric rating of articles. Feedback from experts should be incorporated into the journal after the review process and shortcomings of the research are generally addressed in the discussion section; some newer online journals (i.e. F1000, PeerJ) include a section for comments. In general, if you're looking for a vague "rating" of an article, that usually equates to the impact factor of the journal, since any given journal will generally have certain quality standards that will be consistent across articles in that journal - for instance, if an article is in American Journal of Psychiatry or Biological Psychiatry (both have impact factor >10), you can assume that the quality of that article was around a "10." If an article is in a more subspecialized journal with lower impact, you can guess that it wasn't good enough to get into the more general higher-impact journal. That doesn't mean that there aren't great studies in low-impact journals - the higher-impact journals may have just thought that the article wasn't interesting enough, even if it was good... for instance, if an article is in Brain Stimulation (a respected journal for neuromodulation subspecialists with impact factor around 4.5), I might assume that it's a good article, but somebody didn't think that it was significant enough to warrant getting into Am J Psych - in other words, it is not too interesting to a general psychiatrist, but may be interesting to a neuromodulation expert.

That's a brief overview. In the real world, the process is much more complicated and is based on a lot of prior experience with evaluating literature... for instance, I know that a small study in a low-impact journal is less likely to be reliable than a large study in a high-impact journal, since I've seen that the latter study is more likely to be replicated and its findings are more likely to be successful when I actually try to apply them to patient care.
 
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MrNevergiveup

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You should get used to waiting more than 25 minutes before getting a response. There's no need to bump a thread that's less than a day old.

As for your question, we learn quite a bit through med school and residency where to find information and how to evaluate it. There's quite a lot that can go into an answer here, but I feel that the only way for it to be helpful to you would be for it to be tailored to you. Therefore, I think it would be important for us to know:
1. Who are you? A student, resident, just an interested party? What exposure have you had to research?

2. Are you asking about something specific?

Hi, Thank you for replying!

1. I'm an interested party, and I suffer from mental issues which is the main reason I want to be able to evaluate research articles better. I have a bookmark filled with sites like Pubmed, Web of science, JAMA neurology, Journal of neurology & psychiatry that I use to gather information.
I am a high school student who simply likes learning, especially on matters like such (neurology is intriguing!). :D
I have not read a lot of research articles, and therefore, I regard myself as an absolute beginner.
I understand what double blind & placebo experiments are, and I only look at papers with those as pre-requisite.

2. Where should I first look at when I get my hand on a research paper? the abstract? the setting?

3. How can I evaluate the setting other than making sure it's double blind?

These questions might sound weird since I'm just starting to abandon random articles sites and move on to authentic research papers, and therefore, I'd really appreciate your patience to get some of my confusion sorted out.
As for the thread response I posted, I apologize. I was just on autopilot when I did it.
 

MrNevergiveup

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A lot of these questions can be answered with some pre-med college classes (our university library frequently held classes on how to research for articles and assess credibility, and my various psych/bio/public health classes required our attendance at these). It says you're "pre-psychology" - I'd highly encourage you to take college pre-med coursework in addition to whatever you need to apply for graduate training in Psychology. If you're a resident or non-MS1 med student, you have some catching up to do. An alternative if you're not in college would just be to see if your local university has a calendar of events and if there's a "Introduction to Literature Searches/Research" type class that you can attend for free. The librarians at a university are often a great source of information!
Thank you for replying!
I will look around my local colleges that offer these programs/classes!
It sounds very interesting.
 

MrNevergiveup

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Funny, you said you'd ask two questions and then asked three. I agree with the above statements that a good medical school and residency program will give you thorough training on how to evaluate research and determine whether it is reliable. Giving a detailed answer to the question "how do you do it?" would take years and could be the subject of an entire master's degree - the short answer is, "that's part of our years of training."

1. When you need primary research, you search PubMed and find an article that has been thoroughly peer-reviewed, ideally in a respected journal (which would imply that several impartial experts held it to high standards of rigor). When you need the latest clinical guidelines, you go to UpToDate or a similar resource. When you want general principles, you look at a reliable textbook (my favorite is Medscape/Emedicine, which isn't a textbook per se, but might as well be). If that's not enough to answer a clinical question, I might read the APA guidelines or talk to a more senior physician whose opinion I respect.

2. Certain sources have reputations for being unbiased. UpToDate and Medscape are such examples, since they are written by experts, cite detailed sources, and don't have financial conflicts of interest. Drug company literature, to the contrary, is obviously biased and should not be trusted blindly without evaluating other unbiased sources. Journal articles should be evaluated for bias by looking at the reputation and/or impact factor of the journal (higher-impact journals will have a more rigorous peer review process to ensure scientific quality), the financial conflicts of interests of the authors (which are required to be reported with the journal), and the methods of the study itself to ensure that they accounted for potential confounding factors (ignoring certain key confounders is an easy way for a drug company to manipulate the literature).

3. Some journals (only the minority) come with a numeric rating of articles. Feedback from experts should be incorporated into the journal after the review process and shortcomings of the research are generally addressed in the discussion section; some newer online journals (i.e. F1000, PeerJ) include a section for comments. In general, if you're looking for a vague "rating" of an article, that usually equates to the impact factor of the journal, since any given journal will generally have certain quality standards that will be consistent across articles in that journal - for instance, if an article is in American Journal of Psychiatry or Biological Psychiatry (both have impact factor >10), you can assume that the quality of that article was around a "10." If an article is in a more subspecialized journal with lower impact, you can guess that it wasn't good enough to get into the more general higher-impact journal. That doesn't mean that there aren't great studies in low-impact journals - the higher-impact journals may have just thought that the article wasn't interesting enough, even if it was good... for instance, if an article is in Brain Stimulation (a respected journal for neuromodulation subspecialists with impact factor around 4.5), I might assume that it's a good article, but somebody didn't think that it was significant enough to warrant getting into Am J Psych - in other words, it is not too interesting to a general psychiatrist, but may be interesting to a neuromodulation expert.

That's a brief overview. In the real world, the process is much more complicated and is based on a lot of prior experience with evaluating literature... for instance, I know that a small study in a low-impact journal is less likely to be reliable than a large study in a high-impact journal, since I've seen that the latter study is more likely to be replicated and its findings are more likely to be successful when I actually try to apply them to patient care.

Thank you for replying!
Nice catch! I made a mistake there, ops...
I'll post another response once I look into all these sources you've provided and have a better grasp of them.
I really appreciate your information. I didn't know some journals actually get reviews although I did see a comment section in one of the research sites I book marked (either JAMA or journal of neurology).
Also, corporations can get their hands in the research area as well... Although I knew it already, it still sounds frightening.
 

scudiera

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Honestly just go through school. AP bio and AP stats will teach you plenty.
 
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