The 5 best OT resources to look for research evidence

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Evidence resources for OTs

1.NBCOT:  As part of NBCOT certification, you get access to Proquest. Proquest is a research database.   In Proquest, you use specific search terms to find journal articles.  If available, you can get full-text articles to read.

Directly from the NBCOT site:  

[Proquest provides] direct links to more than 7 million citations, 875 full-text titles and 12,000 full text dissertations sourced from hundreds of renowned publications in the fields of science, medicine, and technology. 

  • To use:   Go to the NBCOT Basic Portal to set-up an account.   You will need your certification number.  Once you are in your account, there is a link to Proquest/Refworks in the main menu. Click on this link to start your search.
  • Pro’s – It is a great resource.  Since it is part of your certification dues – you might as well use it!
  • Con’s –  Using the right keywords to get the articles that you want and learning how to use filters correctly is a learning process.  Proquest doesn’t have a ton of free holdings. You might run into a situation where you can’t get access to full-text articles that answer your question.

2. NCBI:  The National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine provides free content through PubMed Central.  Again, another resource that gives you free content!  This is a great resource for clinicians.

  • To use:  Go to NCBI and type in your search topic in the search bar at the top of the page.  You should use the suggested terms as you type to get better search results.  You can filter various elements (in the left column). Use the tutorials to help you they are great (for example, there is a user’s guide on the main page).
  • Pro’s – You can really find a ton of information in this database.
  • Con’s – This site can be intimidating if you are not used to using electronic databases – but it has so much to offer.

3.  Your local university library.  Most university libraries allow community members access to their collection.  Usually it is limited to on-campus access, but it is better than nothing.  Some universities will give alumni better access (including online access) so it would be a good idea to contact the library from your alma mater to see how to get access to their library collection.

4.  Google Scholar:  Google Scholar is a no-brainer, quick resource finder.   To start, simply go to in your web browser.  This is different from a traditional Google search, so be sure that you have found the Google Scholar search option.  Once in, you can use filters and keywords to search for relevant articles to answer your questions.   Here is a link to the “Search Tips” to help you locate articles that are most relevant to your question.

  • Pro’s – Anyone can access it.  You just need a computer with internet.  There is no need to create an account to use it. And, it isn’t hard to find, without a bookmark.
  • Con’s – May lead to a lot of dead-ends if you want a full-text articles.  Also, from my experience, it tends to pull-up more irrelevant articles than other sources.

5. AOTA –  The American Occupational Therapy Association has evidence-based resources for members.  The evidence is housed on their website and covers a wide range of practice areas.

Pro’s – AOTA has put forth a lot of effort in beefing up content that provides resources for evidence.  They interpret a lot of the evidence for you. They have practice guidelines, critically appraised topics and papers, and guidelines to start your own journal club. They also have a resource directory to help you find databases and information about research.

Con’s -Need to be a member (but, if you aren’t a member, maybe you should use this as a reason to re-join?).  I think that some of the resources are lengthy. You really need to make sure you have the time to browse through the site and read the resources.

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