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Veterinary Nursing Resources: Basics of Vet Literature

A guide for veterinary technician and technology students at Purdue University

The Basics of Using the Veterinary Literature

 Graphic of the Basics of Vet Literature

The flow of knowledge & information in the science of veterinary medicine is shown by black arrows. 
Blue arrows show the flow of knowledge & information into veterinary web sites.

 Journal articles:

  • Original research published in scientific journals; reaches a wide audience rapidly.
  • Most current source for information on diagnosis and therapy.
    • Journals produced by national professional associations, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) or the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), contain more material of interest to practicing veterinarians. 
      • Examples: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, Veterinary record.
    • Associations and veterinary specialty organizations also produce journals containing reports of basic or specialized research. 
      • Examples:  American journal of veterinary research, British veterinary journal, Avian diseases, Equine veterinary journal, Veterinary parasitology.


Review articles:

  • Organize and summarize new information drawn from journal articles as well as earlier review articles and books.
  • Bridge the gap between the original research published as journal articles and the more formal presentation of current knowledge in textbooks.
  • Commonly deal with topics in great depth.
  • Usually contain extensive bibliographies of earlier journal articles, book chapters, and books.
  • Uses/Purposes: 
    • Acquiring needed information in unfamiliar fields.
    • Updating one's knowledge of a subject.
  • Examples found in:
    • Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian
    • Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small animal, Large animal, Equine, & Exotics sections.
    • In practice [British]


Textbooks and Monographs/Books:

  • Compile, organize and summarize information found in journal and review articles as well as earlier monographs/books and textbooks
  • Are only as current as two to three years prior to the date published.
  • Veterinary medicine's scope is so wide that textbooks in the field frequently are multi-authored and focus either on:
    • Medicine and surgery of particular groups of animals, or
      • Examples: Rebhun's Diseases of Dairy Cattle, Mader's Reptile Medicine and Surgery.
    • Specific veterinary specialties:
      • Veterinary specialty textbooks and monographs/books usually emphasize either:
        • Basic sciences (anatomy, physiology, histology, cytology, microbiology, pathology,immunology, parasitology, etc.) or
          • Example: Dyce's Textbook of Veterinary Anatomy
        • Clinical sciences (surgery, radiology, clinical pathology, ophthalmology, dermatology,oncology, etc.).
          • Example: Morrison's Cancer in Dogs and Cat


Reference books are resources for concise/quick [not usually comprehensive] information, such as:

  • Dictionaries define words or terms used in specific disciplines such as medicine or veterinary medicine.
    • Example:  Blood and Studdert's Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary. 
  • Single volume reference books provide an overview of major fields of practice as well as diagnosis
    • Example:  Tilley's 5-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline.
  • Drug books provide information on pharmacology, uses, adverse effects, drug interactions, etc.
    • Example:  Plumb's Veterinary Drug Handbook
  • Current therapy books provide brief articles on clinical problems, approaches to diagnosis, and treatment.
    • Example: Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy [Small Animal]

Veterinary Web Sites on the Internet:

  • Publish either original material or compiles or summarizes print formats (e.g. journal articles, textbooks, reference books) into web pages to reach a wide audience instantaneously.
  • Web sites of professional veterinary organizations, societies, or colleges as well as those of the government or universities provide the most accurate information. 
    • Examples: American Animal Hospital Association, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, US Animal and Plant Heath Inspection Service.
    • Always check the currency and authority of the information provided in web pages. 
    • Example:  NetVet/Electronic Zoo   http://netvet.wustl.edu/