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HealthyWorkplaces Library Resources: Home

Welcome!

Guide URL: http://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/publichealth/HealthyWorkplaces

Presented by Lee Adams (ladams@berkeley.edu)

Feel free to contact me with questions or for an appointment.  Or, drop by the Public Health Library!

Starting the Library Research Process

What is your research question?

  • Think about the distinct aspects of your research question
  • What keywords describe those aspects?
  • Are there synonyms or other words that might also get at your topic?
  • Think about related factors and underlying causes of the issues you are researching.

Let's talk about indexing!

  • Do you want articles on labor or articles on labor? Or is it labour?
  • Do you want articles on HIV (a virus) or articles on HIV diseases (such as AIDS)?
  • Is epidemiology a concept relating to the causes and distribution of diseases, or is it what epidemiologist do.
  • Is lead a noun or a verb?
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.

Critically Evaluating What You Find

"History of science teaches us that scientific endeavor has often in the past wasted effort in fields with absolutely no yield of true scientific information."
    (Ioannidis, 2005; see handout (.docx))

What is evidence? Things to keep in mind:

  • All research is (potentially) "evidence" and there are no "perfect" studies.
  • Is there an agenda (bias)?
    » It's doubtful that any study of humans is totally without some kind of bias, either in the study design, or in the author's pre-existing beliefs, not to mention the source of the research funds. How bias in methodology was controlled and the significance of bias in any particular study is what's relevant.
  • Is qualitative research "evidence"?
    » If your goal is to understand beliefs and meanings in the group with whom you are working, then qualitative studies can be important.

Who pays for science?
Most scientific research is funded by government, companies doing research and development, and non-profit entities. Because science is attempting to get at some "truth," the source of research funding shouldn't have a significant effect on the outcome of scientific research, right?

» Read Industry sponsorship and research outcome Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Dec 12;12:MR000033).

What to consider when looking at survey or estimated data:

    Adopted from information on the UCSF Family Health Outcomes Project web site
  • Look at sample sizes and survey response rates - representative of your population? Enough responses to be valid?
  • Who was surveyed? - representative of population being compared to? Include group you are interested in?
  • Were the survey respondants from heterogeneous groups? Do the survey questions have a similar meaning to members of different groups?
  • How was survey conducted? Via telephone? - Many people only have cell phones. Random selection or targeted group?
  • What assumptions and methods were used for extrapolating the data?
  • Look at definitions of characteristics - Does this match your own definitions?
  • When was the data collected?

Reliability and validity
Adopted from Chapter 3,
Conducting research literature reviews: from the Internet to paper, by Arlene Fink; Sage, 2010.
Reliable data collection is relatively free from "measurement error"
  » Is the survey written at a reading level too high for the people completing it?
  » Is the device used to measure elapsed time in an experiment accurate?
Validity refers to how well a measure assesses what it claims to measure
  » If the survey is supposed to measure "quality of life," how is that concept defined?
  » How accurately can this animal study of drug metabolism be extrapolated to humans?

Article Databases

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.

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