Public Health 292 - Library Research Basics (9/16/09)

Presented by Judy Bolstad and Monica Singh, Librarians
Sheldon Margen Public Health Library, UC Berkeley

Library Resources
  • Public Health Library Home Page
  • Reference Services
  • Connecting From Off Campus

  • Databases and Library Catalogs

  • OskiCat: Library catalog for UCB

  • Melvyl: Library catalog for all of the UCs

  • Guides to Library Catalogs

  • PubMed for UCB: Over 18 million medical and health sciences journal article citations
  • PubMed Quick Guide (UCB Library)
  • PubMed Help (UCB Public Health Library)
  • Indexes and Databases: Alphabetical list of public health related databases for finding literature.

  • Public Health Internet Resources: Web resources evaluated and selected by librarians at the Public Health Library.

    Other Resources

  • RefWorks: Web-based bibliographic management program. Citations can be formatted and merged into Microsoft Word documents as footnotes or a custom bibliography. It is web-based and can be accessed from any computer connected to the Internet. RefWorks is free for all UCB faculty, staff and students. For help, see RefWorks Guides.

  • Library Resources Instruction: Free, drop-in classes on various topics for SPH faculty, staff and students.

  • Bibliographic Management Software Help and Tutorials

  • UCB Library Tutorials

  • How to do Library Research
    1. Choose a research topic
    2. Break your topic down into individual concepts (with synonyms)
    3. Do a preliminary literature search (find out which resources would best for your topic)
    4. Evaluate (read critically) the information gathered from your preliminary search
    5. Narrow or broaden your topic, if necessary. Use Boolean searching.
    6. Continue with your literature search, gathering the best citations for your topic

    Additional Help With Searching PubMed (NLM sources)

  • Combining search terms with Boolean operators
  • Searching by subject headings using the MeSH Database
  • MeSH (Subheadings): Definitions
  • Limiting searches
  • Viewing Your Search History
  • Saving and E-mailing Results and Searches
  • If your keyword/concept does not bring up any MeSH terms:

  • Search for your keyword in the title field (i.e., obesity[ti]. Use hard brackets [ ] and not parentheses. If the word is in the article title, a relevant MeSH term will be in the "Citation" display (use the pull-down menu at the top). You can expand this to include words in the abstract (i.e., yourterm[tiab]).

  • When you have possible MeSH terms, look them up in the MeSH Database and see where they appear on the tree. Use broader or narrower terms, as seen on the tree, if appropriate.
  • The MeSH term "epidemiology" is for the field of study. Use the epidemiology subheading to learn about this aspect of a disease or condition.

  • Be aware when searching for an infection versus the agent/organism causing it (HIV or HIV infections); a symptom versus a disease (Depression or Depressive Disorder); or a medical specialty versus a disease, condition, or intervention (Preventive Medicine or Preventive Health Services; Pulmonary Medicine or Lung Diseases).
  • Drugs and substances can be classified under several headings. When you find a drug or substance in MeSH, look at where it appears on the tree(s). You may need to broaden/narrow your search. For example, are you interested in DDT, or all chlorinated hydrocarbons? Items listed as a substance may also have relevant MeSH terms. For example, your search may be something like: ddt[mesh] OR alpha-chloro-DDT [Substance Name] OR DDT-dehydrochlorinase [Substance Name], etc.

  • PubMed Exercise #1:

    1. In the search box, type: cancer AND health promotion

    2. How many articles came up?

    3. What could you do to this search to make it better, based on what you learned in class?

    4. How would you narrow the search topic? Are there other ways to limit the search to get fewer articles?

    5. Try to narrow your search topic using any of the ways you were shown in class.

    6. Once you have done this, e-mail 5 citations to yourself.

    Answers (choose from among these):

  • Add type of cancer (e.g., breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, etc.)

  • Add an ethnicity, gender, age group, occupational group, geography

  • Limit to review articles and/or English language

  • PubMed Exercise #2:

    1. In the search box, type: Asthma

    2. Limit your search to articles in English published only in the last 3 years.

    3. Send about 5 articles to the Clipboard.

    4. Now, go to the Clipboard and try to open the full text of any of the 5 articles through UC eLinks.

    Melvyl Exercise

    1. Click on Advanced Search (linked under the search box).

    2. Next to the Title search box, type: New England Journal of Medicine.

    3. Scroll down and next to the Format pull-down menu, select Journal/Magazine/Newspaper.

    4. Click Search. Look at your set of results. The first record is the one you are looking for.

    5. Go into the record by clicking on the journal title. Are there both online and print versions available? Where can you get the print version on campus?

    BEFORE YOU LEAVE TODAY please take a very short survey on this library class session. Thanks!!

    More PubMed exercises to do on your own time.
    Copyright (C) 2007 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
    Last updated 09/8/08.