Frequently Asked Questions

Select a frequently asked question to jump directly to the answer.
Have a question not answered below? Contact us for assistance.
How can I get help using PubMed?
PubMed provides several very short tutorials (most are less than four minutes and very helpful) on its website at You may also come to the library for assistance with your search on PubMed.
How do I begin library research on a topic?

Begin with good background information. You can try Encyclopedia Britannica Online for a general article. Then, you can proceed to MySTLCOP to select an appropriate online library database, based on the subject of your research topic.

For a general search on a topic, we recommend Academic Search Complete. This database covers more than 3,600 academic journals including Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Annual Review of Physiology, Physiological Reviews, New England Journal of Medicine, and JAMA, as well as numerous non-medical titles.

We recommend starting with a keyword search. If your results list is too long, add another keyword to narrow the focus of the topic. Try additional databases as needed. Search the library catalog for books relating to the topic.

If you need help with your search in any library database, come by the library and ask for the Reference Librarian.

What's the difference between a library database and an electronic journal?

Library databases are entry points to search multiple publications, at the same time, for articles on a subject. Use library databases when you want to research a topic. Begin with a keyword search.

Electronic journals are the online version of a single publication (e.g., New England Journal of Medicine). The library's searchable "Full-Text Journals" page contains a list of all the electronic (and print) journals you can access via the library.

Access & search Full-Text Journals from here (log-in to MySTLCOP, when prompted). Links in your search results will lead to a list of your journal's volumes and issues, where you can browse or search for specific articles. Use the Full-Text Journals page when you know the journal title, volume, issue and/or date of a specific article, or when you need to browse within a specific journal.

How do I get a copy of an article if STLCOP does not have it?
First, be sure you've checked for Library access to the article-- if there is no full-text link in a database, you may still have access to the article. Please search STLCOP library's journals for an online or print version of your journal title. If it's not listed there and you're on campus, you can check the Becker Medical Library catalog. As a final option, request a copy using our MySTLCOP Interlibrary Loan form.
How do I request an article through Interlibrary Loan (ILL), and how long will that take?

To access the online request form for articles, along with more information about ILL, see our Interlibrary Loan page.

Once submitted, your request can take anywhere from 2 to 14 business days to be filled. We will notify you by email when your article is available. Obscure journals and books (see next question) may take longer to arrive. For more information, contact Ashley Bryant at

How can I get a book that STLCOP does not have?

First, check the MOBIUS catalog. If your book is available there, make a request using the "Request" button. A MOBIUS book generally takes 2 to 3 business days to arrive. Another option is to check the catalog of WashU's Becker Medical Library. If your book is there, walk two blocks south on Euclid to Becker Library, and use your STLCOP ID to check it out.

If the book is not available in MOBIUS or at Becker Library, you can request the book though Interlibrary Loan. Please keep in mind that a book requested through ILL can take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks to arrive.

What is MOBIUS, and where do I find the catalog?
MOBIUS is a consortium of 65 academic libraries in Missouri, plus five public libraries. Books requested online through the MOBIUS catalog usually arrive at the STLCOP library in two to three days, and can be checked out for four weeks-- with two possible renewals, unless another patron requests the book. If you are already searching for a book in the STLCOP catalog, you can click on the MOBIUS button at the top or the bottom of the page to search the MOBIUS catalog.
Can I renew books, DVDs and other items from my computer or mobile device?

Yes! You can renew books, DVDs, and other items through My Library Account.