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Research Strategies for Public Health

About databases...

Databases index articles in journals, and may include books, chapters of books, and documents. You need to use them to effectively find articles in journals.

Many focus on a subject area, such as MEDLINE (medicine/biomedicine). Others cover a broad range of topics, such as Google Scholar.

Tip: You cannot search for journal articles in our online catalog, only the titles of the journals!

Getting started looking for articles...

If you are given a topic to search, or are developing a topic, you need to evaluate each part of this topic. Which concepts are most important? Remember that some words/concepts are fixed (like the name of a grant program). For other concepts, youmay need to think of other words or phrases to search with. There is no perfect path - you may need to try some different searches, then take a look at the first 25-30 results.

-Are you finding few/no results? Searching is not an exact science. Sometimes you just have to explore, try different words/concepts, and then search again! For example, sometimes the concept "woman" is best for searching, and sometimes is is "female". (If you are haveing trouble getting started, try eDiscover for rough exploratory searching (in the middle of the library web page)...but be sure to combine this with another database or databases!)

-Are you finding too many articles? Narrow the results down by adding another search word or phrase. If you get too specific, it may narrow your results down to zero.

-If you are finding articles that are close to what you are searching for, look carefully at the subjects or keywords of those articles. They may give you ideas for other/better concepts to search!

Find articles using databases!

What subject areas do the search terms best fit in? This will help you decide which database(s) to use! Databases help you to search for articles by indexing journals in a subject area...(and sometimes books, chapters in books and documents, also.)

Public Health is very cross-disciplinary! I have put together a list of databases on Public Health which are available through the University at Albany Libraries. These can be useful in finding different aspects of public health topics. Based on topics/subject search words you are interested in, you may need to search in several databases. This list can be found on the library web page, under:

  • "Databases/Public Health"
  • "Research by Subject/Public Health/Key resources for Public Health"

 The first screen shows several key databases that may be useful in starting your search, such as Medline and Google Scholar. Click "Other Databases" for the complete listing of databases.

If you have a great article in hand...

Be sure to check the bibliography in the back of that article - it could lead you to related materials (articles, books or documents) that you can use.

If the article is several years old, more recent articles may have cited it, and also be of interest. Search by the name of the article in Scopus (Pick "Databases/search by name (tab))/S/Scopus"). Once you have searched by the name of the article, see if there is a number on the right hand side of the screen, under "cited by". If there is a number, like "12", there are 12 articles that have cited your paper. Click on this number to view these citations.