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Research Guide

Your topic


How to search

Where to search

Evaluating and Citing sources



Finding articles

Finding web pages

Finding books







Research Guide | Finding articles | Finding web pages | Finding books | Citations

Research Guide for Health Education

The best way to do research is to think about the whole project while you are doing each step -- how does each thing that you learn relate to everything else you know? It is not like following a recipe where you do step one, then step two, then step three, etc. In doing research, you often find that after step three, you have to go back to step two again, or even step one. The suggestions given here are meant to be used like that.
Before you start, look carefully at the assignment your instructor has given to you. Notice the details of what you need to find or do -- find journal articles or statistics? write APA citations? will you be graded on whether you used reliable sources?

Your topic

What do you want to find out? Write down topic words, aspects of your topic, and very important terms. You will use these keywords to construct your searches.

Make a list

Write an outline of the topics you want to cover and the main points you plan to make. As you do your research, use this like a shopping list to remind you of what you need to get. Keep revising this outline as you work through the other steps!

How to search

All searching tools use keywords. Look at your topic to choose your starting keywords. As you get good or not so great results, be prepared to change your keywords. For tips about how to search using different research tools, go to Finding articles, Finding web pages, or Finding books.

Where to search

Find different kinds of information by looking in different places. A well done course assignment should use two or three different kinds of sources, including periodical articles, government websites, websites for non-profit organizations, and books. Here are some suggested starting points for various kinds of information.
Brief definitions and overview
online encyclopedia: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
online dictionary: MedlinePlus Medical Dictionary
print encylopedia: Encyclopedia of Health & Behavior
print dictionary: Mosby's Dictionary
print guide: American Medical Association Family Medical Guide
In depth background and analysis
books: CityCat subject search
 CityCat keyword search
Quick background or analysis
goverment websites:U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Health Library
 National Institutes of Health. Health Information
 Center for Disease Control and Prevention
 MedlinePlus Health Topics and Overviews
 WomensHealth.Gov Health Topics
Specific aspects of your topic
periodical articles: EBSCO HOST
 Gale Powersearch
  Or follow links to Health and Medicine databases on the Find Articles page
  Get advice about Finding Periodical Articles in Health
web pages:Limit domain to .gov or .org in Google Advanced Search

websites:Explore Health Careers
 Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)
 California Community Colleges Health Occupations
Controversial issues
periodical articles:CQ Researcher
reprinted articles online:Opposing viewpoints Resource Center
reprinted articles in books:Opposing viewpoints series
Epidemiological reports
websites:The WWW Virtual Library: Medicine and Health: Epidemiology
Fact sheets
websites:Center for Disease Control and Prevention
 National Women's Health Network Fact Sheets
Holistic & alternative treatments
periodical articles:AltHealthWatch
website:National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Organizations supporting action or education
websites:Limit domain to .org in Google Advanced Search
 San Francisco Department of Public Health Community Programs. Especially the link to Community Health Network Centers.
Political action: representatives and legislation
websites:Project Vote Smart. Find your elected federal and state officials
  Govtrack.US Find congressional district maps, voting records and other information about the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
 San Francisco District Information. Find your supervisor on the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors
 Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Find your supervisor in Alameda County -- click on Supervisoral Map if you don't know your district
 Marin County Board of Supervisors. Find your supervisor in Marin County
 San Mateo Board of Supervisors. Find your supervisor in San Mateo County. -- click on Supervisoral Districts if you don't know your district
 For city officials try a Google search for oakland city goverment or hayward city government or etc.
 Official California Legislative Information. State legislation
 Thomas at the Library of Congress. Federal legislation
Resarch and new discoveries
periodical articles:EBSCO HOST
 Gale Powersearch
website:National Institutes of Health.
Rumours: are they true?
website:Urban Legends Reference Pages: Snopes.com by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson
San Francisco information
websites:Health Matters in San Francisco Very wonderful source!
 San Francisco Department of Public Health
 San Francisco Neighborhood Indicator Profiles
 Program on Health, Equity and Sustainability See the list of reports in the left margin
 San Francisco Neighborhood Market DrillDown Provides 2007 aggregated information on households, etc. for 12 neighborhoods
 Police Department Crime Maps Creates maps of incidents for area and time period you specify
 THRIVE: Commnunity Assessment Planning Tool Provides a template to help assess community health data
 County Health Rankings Provides comparative rankings for counties within a state.
websites:National Center for Health Statistics
 WomensHealth.Gov Women's Health Statistics
 U.S. Census Bureau
 Census Tract map for San Francisco, East and Central [PDF file: use tool to zoom in]
 Census Tract map for San Francisco, West [PDF file: use tool to zoom in]
Textbooks and Self-help books
books: CityCat subject search
 CityCat keyword search
Volunteer oportunities
websites: The Volunteer Center serving San Francisco and San Mateo Counties
 San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium Volunteer Opportunities
 Volunteer Match Set your Interest Area to Health & Medicine

Evaluate your sources

Is each source reliable? It's worth your time and effort to figure out whether health information is really accurate and helpful. For each source, try to answer the following questions: Here is an example of some text from a web page called Things to Know if You Want to Quit Smoking:
  It can be difficult to quit smoking, and many smokers who try to quit do not succeed. Millions of smokers in the United States and around the world have succeeded, though - most without outside assistance.
Does this appear to be reliable information?
Now follow the link to the web page these two sentences came from: http://www.philipmorrisinternational.com/PMINTL/pages/eng/smoking/Quitting.asp
How does examining the context change your understanding of the sentences above?

For more about evaluating health information on the web, see:
  MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing.
  Content Evaluation Guidelines from the Medical Library Association.

As soon as you decide to use a source, write the citation for it, while you have all the information in front of you. Remember to include these in your finished project.

Read each source and think about what it tells you.

Use an online or print dictionary to look up terms you don't know.
Questions that you have after reading a source can be answered by more research.
For important or surprising facts, try to find more than one source.

Synthesize what you have learned and write your project

Look again at the outline you created at the beginning of this process. Revise it and rearrange it, and then use it as a guide for what you will write about.
You can get writing help from the CCSF Writing Lab in the Learning Assistance Center and from your instructor.
revised by Karen Saginor 20 April 2010