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Library Session for the On-Campus/Online Professional MPH Program

  Presented by Michael Sholinbeck, msholinb@library.berkeley.edu

URL for this web page:

» Please also take heed of the 9 Library Things Every OOMPH Student Should Know!


The Public Health Library, Location, Reference, Off-Campus Access to Library Resources

Sheldon Margen Public Health Library hours
Summer: M-F 10-5
Fall/Spring: M-Th 9-8, F 9-5, Sa-Su 1-5

Reference Services:

How to set up off-campus access to library resources (databases, online journals, etc.) using the Library proxy server or Library VPN

Before You Start: Your Topic, the Scope of Your Search, Where to Look

» You can watch a 7 min. video on these issues.

What causes disease?
How you conceptualize your topic affects how you search for relevant information ...
Perhaps you will first consider the interaction and interdependence of environmental factors (eg, pollution, disasters, outbreaks) and social factors (eg, smoking, obesity, drug use):

  Asthma in West Oakland is caused by and/or made worse by smoking and air pollution.

But consider:

  » Maybe it is "caused" by inadequate regulation of transportation, energy production, and/or tobacco ...
  » Or by neighborhood characteristics and/or historical racism in housing ...
  » Are genetic factors relevant?
  » What about access to healthy food?
  » What about health insurance or health care disparities which affects access to appropriate prescription drugs?
  » Is lack of appropriate child care services for working women a factor?

Is your topic researchable?

  1. "The harmful effects of domestic beer consumption among students at Cal's Big Game"
  2. "Health effects of binge drinking among college students in the United States"
  3. "Alcohol consumption by young adults"

  4.   » It may prove difficult to find research on very narrow topics, or to cope with the vast literature on an un-focused, broad topic.
      » Figuring out the scope of your literature search also helps you decide when you have "enough."

What is the scope of your search?
Literature searching is a process that includes deciding which databases to use, which terms to search on, etc.
If you try to find all relevant citations, you will likely also find many non-relevant citations.
If you try to find only relevant citations, you may miss finding some relevant citations.

    » The search scope influences how you focus or limit your search when using online databases, as well as when you decide you have "enough."

The importance of indexing
» Do you want articles on labor (as in work) or articles on labor (as in giving birth)? Or is it labour?
Indexing facilitates more precise search statements, especially for topics that are vague or ambiguous.
Using index terms also helps you avoid the need to think of every possible synonym or alternate spelling of your search terms.
Indexing means the citations in the database are assigned terms from a controlled vocabulary; not all databases use a controlled vocabulary, however.
Index terms are sometimes called descriptors or thesaurus terms; in PubMed they are called Medical Subject Headings, or MeSH
» More information is in the database sections below.

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PubMed Tips

PubMed for UCB: Citations to over 23 million journal articles (and a very small number of books/book chapters) on biomedical and public health topics, with links to full text via Getting Started with UC-eLinks

PubMed top tips for focusing your search:

  1. Combine search terms with AND or OR (You can also combine previous searches using History)
  2. Use Filters (formerly called Limits) (age group, publication type, language, etc.)
  3. Search for your term as a word in the title or title or abstract (using Filters)
  4. Use MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), with subheadings
  5. Click the Related Articles links in the best citations you find
  6. Try PubMed's Clinical Queries or Topic-Specific Queries if appropriate

» PubMed Quick Guide: Basic search help.
» PubMed exercise set (PDF; from the Public Health Library)

» Combining search terms with Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT - remember Venn diagrams?)

» Combining searches using History: Searches can be combined or used in subsequent searches from Advanced search History.

» Filters: Limit your search by language, age group, publication type, publication date, and more.
   Also use Filters to limit your search to words in the article title, abstract, or Medical Subject Heading (MeSH).
   (Note: Filters stay in effect until you clear them.)

» Use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
» Saving citations temporarily using PubMed's Clipboard

» My NCBI:

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Beyond PubMed: Other Resources for Finding Journal Articles and More   Getting Started with UC-eLinks     access paid by UCB

Remember those PubMed "Top Tips"? Most are applicable to the databases below as well as several other databases.

Citations from books, book chapters, journal articles, technical reports, and more. Subjects include agriculture, agricultural economics, nutrition, food assistance programs, etc.
» Agricola does not use a controlled vocabulary. Use the subject descriptor index to find terms, or focus your search by using title words.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Food security/insecurity, WIC program, etc.

BIOSIS Previews
The most comprehensive database for life science research. Coverage includes traditional areas of biology, such as botany, zoology and microbiology, as well as related fields such as biomedicine, agriculture, pharmacology and ecology. Interdisciplinary fields such as medicine, biochemistry, biophysics, bioengineering and biotechnology are also included, as well as instrumentation and methods. Includes journal article citations, books and meeting abstracts, papers and posters.
» Use Concept Codes, Taxonomic Data, and more to focus your BIOSIS Previews search.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Better searching by taxonomic data, includes meeting abstracts ...
» Guide to BIOSIS previews:  html  |  pdf

Business Source Complete
Marketing, management, economics, finance, accounting, and more. Besides journal literature, BSC includes financial data, conference proceedings, case studies, investment research reports, industry reports, market research reports, country reports, company profiles, SWOT analyses, and more.
» BSC does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Subjects on the right side to browse the thesaurus.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Search by company or industry, public health topics from a marketing point of view ...

Broad biomedical scope with strong coverage in pharmaceutical and toxicological research, including economic evaluations. Useful for clinical medicine, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, infectious diseases, healthcare policy & management, biomedical engineering & medical devices, and more. Embase is a primary resource for conducting systematic reviews and researching evidence-based medicine. Includes abstracts of over 2,000 conferences.
» Embase does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Emtree above the search box to search or browse for terms.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Better coverage of drug/toxicology topics, conference abstracts, more European literature, search by CAS Registry Number ...

Global Health
Citations in environmental and occupational health, food safety and hygiene, infectious diseases, medical microbiology, nutrition, public health, toxicology, zoonoses, and more. Sources include journals, books, reports, conference proceedings, patents, theses, and electronic only publications. Significantly more international coverage than PubMed.
» Global Health does use a controlled vocabulary. Use the drop-down menu and select Descriptors then click to browse the thesaurus.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Search by (relatively narrow) geographic locations (ie, setting), or country in which work published.
» Global Health Database Exercise (PDF)
» Global Health Search Help

Google Scholar
Citations in all fields.
Google Scholar does not use a controlled vocabulary.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Large topical scope, (sometimes) searches within the full article, cited reference searching possible (but problematic).
Google scholar will not let you save history or combine searches. It is unknown exactly what sources Google Scholar has access to. Your searches may also turn up such documents as CVs, PowerPoints, syllabi, etc.

Citations in psychology, behavior, and related disciplines; includes citations of journal articles, conference proceedings, books and book chapters, reports and dissertations.
» PsycINFO does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Thesaurus (above the search boxes) to find terms.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Economic security, community attitudes, socioeconomic class attitudes, labeling, test/measurement index ...

Social Work Abstracts
Citations on topics such as homelessness, HIV/AIDS, child and family welfare, aging, substance abuse, legislation, community organization, and more.
» Social Work Abstracts does not use a controlled vocabulary. Use the subject term index to find terms: click Indexes and choose Subjects to browse for terms, or use title words.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Age bias, family functioning, resiliency, ...
» Social Work Abstracts Help

Sociological Abstracts
Citations in demography, education, law, social psychology, and sociology. Sources include journals, books, conferences and meetings, and dissertations.
» Sociological Abstracts does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Thesaurus (above the search boxes) to find terms.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Cultural capital, peer relations, victimization, family structure, strategies, neighborhoods, social constructionism, ...
» Sociological Abstracts Exercise (PDF)
» Sociological Abstracts Guide

Web of Science
Large, multidisciplinary database; links to cited articles and times cited are provided for retrieved articles.
» Web of Science does not use a controlled vocabulary; it uses author keywords and keywords assigned algorithmically.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Scope of database is broad; best resource for cited reference searching.
» Cited Reference Searching exercise (PDF)
» The above are but a sample of the many databases available to find article and other citations.
» See the Public Health Library's
Indexes and Databases web page for more.
Ask a librarian for help if you are having trouble with your topic.
» Click the Getting Started with UC-eLinks UC-eLinks icon to find full text online, or to see if the print version is in a library near you.

Use the library catalogs to find books, reports, etc. on your topic. Books, while not often where original research is published, can often provide an overview of a topic and get you started with some key articles.

Sources of systematic and other reviews

"Systematic reviews seek to collate all evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to address a specific research question. They aim to minimize bias by using explicit, systematic methods." (from Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from www.cochrane-handbook.org).

Grey Literature
Grey Literature generally refers to publications not produced by commercial publishers, including reports (pre-prints, preliminary progress and advanced reports, technical reports, market research reports, etc.), theses, conference proceedings, and other documents. They are often produced by government entities, research institutions, or NGOs/IGOs.

More Resources

Where to Find Information (UCB Business Library)
Many resources are available to find information on companies and industries. You may be particularly interested in IBIS World Industry Market Research, which provides online full-text reports for over 700 U.S. industries.

Electronic Newspapers and News Sources (UCB Public Health Library)
News sources from around the world, including late-breaking stories as well as historical sources. Newspapers, online sources, television, etc.

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Critically Evaluating What You Find

» You can watch a 4 min. video on this topic

What is evidence?

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Using RefWorks to Organize Your Citations and Create Bibliographies

RefWorks is a web-based tool that allows users to create a citation database by importing references from online databases. You can use these references in writing papers, and automatically format the paper in any of hundreds of citations styles in seconds.
Access to RefWorks is provided by the UCB Library to UCB students, staff, and faculty.

RefWorks Exercise Set and Handout (PDF; from the Public Health Library)

Introduction to Using RefWorks (3 min. video tutorial; from the Public Health Library)

» EndNote, Mendeley, and Zotero are other bibliographic management software programs. Information on each may be found here.

Save your search strategies
Nearly all the databases you use to find articles, etc., retain your search history. Literature reviews, like epidemiological research, should be rigorous and reproducible. Save or print your search history to help document your search strategy, which will include:

» Using PubMed's Clipboard and My NCBI can help with both saving your search strategy and the citations you find. See links in the PubMed section, above.

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