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PH 206 Public Health Nutrition Core Course: Starting Your Literature Search

Starting the Library Research Process

What causes disease?
For any "disease" or condition, you could start by considering interactions among environmental and social factors.
  » Poor diet, resulting from food choices, "causes" nutritional deficiency or obesity in a population

But consider:
  » Is it "caused" by historical distribution of land use, including (in developing countries) during colonial times?
  » Or by the regulatory environment, including crop subsidies, food inspections, etc.?
  » What about the role of NGOs, IGOs, aid networks?
  » What about infrastructure, such as food distribution networks, transportation, etc.?
  » Is the status of women/girls a factor?
  » What about mental health issues?
  » What is the role of commercial activity?
  » What about the healthcare and health insurance system?

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?
  » What's the difference between diet, food, food supply, food habits, food chain, nutritional status, eating, energy intake, ...?
  » 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 and examples under the Find Articles and More tab.
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