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Occupational Therapy Assistant: Articles & Databases

Online research guide for OTA majors

Databases Relevant to your Major

What does "full text" mean?

"Full text" means that you have access to the entire article - not just the citation and abstract. By selecting "full text" when you're searching in a database, you are telling that database to only return results that you will be able to read immediately.

What does "peer reviewed" mean?


Articles that have been "peer reviewed" (or sometimes are referred to as "scholarly" articles) were written by experts and have been through a very rigorous editing process.


The manuscript of the article is sent to acknowledged experts in the same field who review the information. Once they give their seal of approval, the article can be published.


Because the editing process is so extensive, articles that have been peer reviewed are considered to be the most reliable type of source.


These peer reviewed articles are written for professionals already working in the field. You can expect a peer reviewed article to use discipline-specific vocabulary, and they usually are 10 - 40 pages in length.

Types of Sources

Relevant Films

What is a journal?

A journal is a collection of articles published on a periodic basis (once per month, three times per year, etc.). Some journals contain articles that have been peer reviewed. Others are considered "trade journals" and contain articles relevant to a specific occupation, but have not been through the peer review process.

Tips for Searching in Databases

Most databases have an Advanced Search function. Find journal articles in a database by searching by:

  • Keyword
  • Article title
  • Author
  • Publication title

Once you have a list of results, you should be able to refine your search by limiting:

  • Full text access articles
  • Peer reviewed articles
  • Publication date (set a range of years)

Once you're looking at the publication information for an article, keep in mind that you are likely able to click on hyperlinked information found here, such as the author's name, to find more articles written by that author. You should also be able to click on "subject" terms.

What are "subject" terms?

Subjects are a list of terms used to describe a major point of the article. They work similarly to a hash tag (#) used in social media. When you click on a phrase with a hash tag in your favorite social media site, you'll see a list of posts from people around the world who used that exact same hash tag term. For example:

  • When you click on #forthewin in Twitter, you'll see a list of everyone who has recently used that same term, #forthewin

In the same way, when you click on a subject term, you'll see all articles for which that subject is a major focus.

To learn more about searching in the library's online resources see:

Subject Terms

occupational therapy occupational therapy assistants pediatric occupational therapy OR occupational therapy for children
occupational therapy for older people COTA occupational therapy case studies
occupational therapy department, hospital    

Full Text Journals

American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT) - can be accessed through Gale

Asian Journal of Occupational Therapy - some PDFs available for free; peer reviewed

New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy - can be access through Ebsco

Occupational Therapy International - can be accessed through Gale or Ebsco

The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy (OJOT) - a peer-reviewed, open-access journal with a mission to publish high quality articles that focus on applied research, practice, and education in the occupational therapy profession.

PubMed - PubMed comprises more than 26 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites. Part of the US Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Heath.

Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy - can be accessed through Ebsco


OT Search Engine

OTSeeker A web-based search engine that you can use to find full-text articles or citations and abstracts. If you find an article that is not available in full-text, search our article databases and Google Scholar. Still no full text? Ask the library to find a copy of the article for you. OT Seeker also provides a list of the journals they index, and they note whether each journal provides open access to articles on the web. See the tutorial here.

Medical Subject Headings - MeSH & CINAHL

What is a controlled vocabulary? A controlled vocabulary is a set of selected words or phrases that are used to aid in the search of organization, and therefore the ability to search and retrieve information. Synonyms and words that could be spelled different ways are often redirected to the 'authorized' term, assuring that search results are accurate. Controlled vocabularies are often hierarchical in structure. Meaning the authorized word can often be linked to broader or narrower search terms. Basically using a controlled vocabulary helps you to be precise in your search. Example.....

What is MeSH? MeSH is the controlled vocabulary thesaurus of the NLM (the National Library of Medicine). The NLM uses MeSH to index the articles found in the MEDLINE and PubMed databases. It is also used in the descriptions of items cataloged by the NLM such as books, documents, and images. Since the NLM covers all areas or medical and health care using MeSH terms in your search can be very helpful.

CINAHL headings are based on MeSH but with additional headings added.

How to use PICO to form a clinical Question

P - Patient, Population, or Problem : Describe the patient or problem

I - Intervention or Indicator: Treatment, prognostic factor - What do you want to them to do?

C - Comparison or Control : What are you comparing the intervention to? Another treatment, no treatment, etc.

O - Outcome: What are you trying to achieve? What happens? This should be measurable. Improvement, decline, no measurable outcome, etc.

T - Type of Question : Diagnosis, Therapy, Prognosis, Etiology/Harm, Prevention

T -  Type of article : Randomized Control Trial, Case study, etc.

Chat with a Librarian

Contact the Library

The Library is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday,  & Friday from 10AM - 5PM and Wednesday from 1PM - 8PM.

If you need help from the librarian or need to access the library resources outside of those hours let us know!

Call or text 717-728-2500 or email to make an appointment.

Remember the Learning Hub is also open with lots of great faculty and staff willing to help with tutoring, advising, and general questions.

Library Director