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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 thesaurusterms; in PubMed they are called Medical Subject Headings, or MeSH
» More information is in the database sections below.
Critically Evaluating What You Find
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. 2017 Feb. 16; 2:MR000033).
What to consider when looking at survey or estimated data:
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, 2014.
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?
Search biomedical literature citations from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. [1950 - present]
Access to citations from MEDLINE, PreMEDLINE, other journals in the field of medicine and life sciences, and links to NCBI's integrated molecular biology databases including nucleotide sequences, protein sequences, 3-D protein structure data, population study data sets, and assemblies of complete genomes in an integrated system. Note: The link above goes to a specially configured version of PubMed for UC Berkeley users that will display the Get It button for full text access. To use the free public version, please click here.
Search for biomedical literature citations. Embase is a key resource for conducting systematic reviews and researching evidence-based medicine. [dates vary]
Indexes journals, including many not in Medline, from over 90 countries, and indexes conference abstracts from many conferences. Broad biomedical scope with strong coverage in drug, pharmaceutical, and toxicological research including economic evaluation.
Indexes journals, books, reports, and more on the topics such as environmental and occupational health, food safety and hygiene, infectious diseases, medical microbiology, nutrition, public health, toxicology, and zoonoses. [1912 - present]
Limited free full text is available for some hard-to-find journal articles, conference proceedings, reports, and research articles from smaller, society and non-English publishers. Note: The header says "CABI: CAB Abstracts and Global Health"
Provides full-text for more than 7000 scholarly journals and other sources, including nearly 1100 peer-reviewed business publications. Offers information in nearly every area of business including management, economics, finance, and accounting. [1965 - present]
Indexing, abstracts, and (in many cases) the full text of articles for the most important scholarly business journals as well as popular and trade magazines and newsletters.
Citations and summaries of journal articles, book chapters, books, dissertations, and technical reports. (Psychological Abstracts, Psychinfo) [1806 - current]
Indexes journals, conference proceedings, books, reports, and dissertations in psychology and enriched with literature from psychiatry, education, business, medicine, nursing, pharmacology, law, linguistics, and social work.
Find literature citations spanning the world of ergonomics and human factors with related material from psychology, physiology, biomechanics, human-computer interaction, human engineering, medicine, occupational health, sport, and transport. [1985 - present]
Indexes journals, books, dissertations, and reviews in the social sciences on sociological topics as well as selected anthropology, criminology, demography, law, social psychology, and urban development. [1952 - present]
Indexes journals, conference proceedings, trade publications, and book series in the sciences and more.
Contains over 50 million records with more than half the content originating from outside North America. Indexes over 21,000 journals, conference proceedings, trade publications, and book series in the sciences, technology, medicine, arts, and humanities.
Indexes leading journals in the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences. Allows cited reference searching. (ISI Web of Knowledge) [1900 - present]
Provides links to footnoted citations as well as sources that have subsequently cited an article. Includes the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (from 1975), Science Citation Index (from 1900), and Social Sciences Citation Index (from 1900).
Search across many disciplines and sources including articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites.
Lists journal articles, books, preprints, and technical reports in many subject areas (though more specialized article databases may cover any given field more completely). Can be used with "Get it at UC" to access the full text of many articles.
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.
Provides a suite of open access, scholarly publishing services and research tools that enable departments, research units, publishing programs, and individual scholars associated with the University of California to have direct control over the creation and dissemination of the full range of their scholarship.
eScholarship provides a suite of open access, scholarly publishing services to the University of California and delivers a dynamic research platform to scholars worldwide.
Google and other search engines can be useful for finding grey literature. Improve your search using:
• Quotes for phrase searching:
• Site: to specify a particular site or domain:
"healthy workplace" site:.org (for a domain search); "healthy workplace" site:ilo.org (for a specific site search)
• Boolean search statements (eg, OR):
("healthy workplace" OR "workplace wellness") AND psychology