What causes disease?
How you conceptualize your topic affects how you search for relevant information.
Perhaps you would first consider interactions between environmental factors (eg, pollution, outbreaks) and social factors (eg, smoking, drug use). You may also wish to consider other aspects of your topic.
Think about the wider context of your topic. Do some preliminary exploration, both in the literature and in discussions with your teachers, advisors, and peers. What are the relevant scientific and policy circumstances?
Always keep in mind the question you are trying to answer
What is the scope of your search?
Literature searching always involves balancing finding all relevant citations (which means you may also find many non-relevant citations) with finding only relevant citations (which means you may miss some relevant citations).
The search scope, as well as the purpose and audience of your literature search, influences how you focus your search when using online databases, as well as when you decide you have "enough."
Remember that research is not a linear process; you may find yourself modifying your search terms as you explore your topic.
Which disciplines are concerned with your topic? Which aspect(s) -- legal, political, environmental, behavioral etc. -- of your topic is/are of interest?
Answering these questions will help you decide which databases to search for literature. Although PubMed may be the best place to start for most public health topics, you may miss key literature if you do not use other resources.
Is your topic researchable?
You may need to broaden or narrow the focus of your topic.
This may become more apparent as you search for and find information. It may prove difficult to find research on very narrow topics, or to cope with the vast literature on an un-focused, broad topic.
Let's talk about indexing!
Indexing facilitates more precise search statements, especially for topics that are vague or ambiguous.
Off-campus access is limited to current UCB faculty, staff and students. Choose one of the following methods:
Library Proxy (aka EZproxy)
When you click on a link to an article, database, etc., (from a library web page) you will be prompted to authenticate via CalNet.
If you click on an article (etc.) link found via a search engine or a non-UCB Library webpage, you will need to use a bookmarklet to access the licensed resource.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Download and install the VPN client to allow access the UC Berkeley licensed resources.
Make sure you select Library Access - Full Tunnel VPN when you log on
Request an Interlibrary Loan for a known article or book/book chapter.
Or (better) click the UC-eLinks button next to a citation in an article database, then click "Request this from the library"