Many DrPH Competencies include skills that the library can help you with:
"The ability to ... explore, describe, and analyze public health problems at an advanced level; synthesize and apply evidence-based research ... and critically review relevant literature."
"The ability to ... use critical evaluation, applied research methodology, and statistical methods effectively."
"The ability to articulate the breadth and depth of social, economic, and health inequities..."
All of the above require you to be able to:
Below are some examples of questions or lines of inquiry.
Considering what question a research article addresses may help you determine if it is relevant to your needs:
What is a good Research Question? It is a question that:
This blog post has tips on how to write a good research question, including examples of bad, good, and great questions.
To reduce bias, it may be best to pose your question in a neutral manner. Examples:
What is the question being addressed in the study you are reading? Compare:
When you read an article, answer (briefly) the following (source):
Finding a systematic review that addresses the question you are interested in can be very helpful: take a look at the search strategy and databases used in the systematic review for tips on your search.
What causes disease?
How you conceptualize your topic affects how you search for relevant information. All inquiries are partial and are shaped by ingrained assumptions and values. (Source).
Consider first perhaps the interaction of 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.
The importance of indexing
It may be useful to have a structure to help guide you when searching.
When you formulate a research question, consider these elements:
Note: It is possible that not all of the above elements will be appropriate for your search topic.
This worksheet (docx) will take you through the process of formulating a search.
PICO is another popular way to structure a search.
PICO stands for:
Worksheet: Developing an Efficient Search Strategy Using PICO (docx): A fillable form that provides a PICO example and prompts you to document synonyms and MeSH headings.
Embase has a PICO search form to guide you.
SPIDER is a search structure used in qualitative research. SPIDER stands for:
Once you have a search strategy, you can try the Polyglot Search tool, which helps to translate a PubMed search into the correct syntax for several other databases, including Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, and more.
Evaluation is about determining the quality, value, or importance of something in order to take action. It is underpinned by the systematic collection of information and evidence.
What is evidence? Things to keep in mind:
Things to consider:
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).
Read Food Politics, a blog by Marion Nestle that often addresses the issues of industry sponsored research.
This article (PDF) discusses the "manufactured uncertainty" created by industry groups that sponsor research and publishing on chemicals.
Is it race? or is it racism?
Race is a sociological construct, yet most articles describing racial disparities ascribe them to race, not to racism.
Read NIH must confront the use of race in science (Science 2020;369(6509):1313-1314).
See Critically Appraising for Antiracism: Identifying racial bias in published research: A guide and tool to help evaluate research literature for racism.
Peer review refers to a process whereby scholarly work (ie, an article) is reviewed and critiqued by experts to ensure it meets some standards of acceptance before it is published.
Does this process make for better science?
Read Editorial peer review for improving the quality of reports of biomedical studies (Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Apr 18;(2):MR000016).
Reliability and validity
Reliable data collection: relatively free from "measurement error:"
Is the survey written at a reading level too high for the people completing it?
If I measure something today, then measure it again tomorrow using the same scale, will it vary? Why?
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? Is it measurable?
(Adopted from Chapter 3, Conducting research literature reviews : from the Internet to paper, by Arlene Fink; Sage.)
What to consider when looking at survey or estimated data:
What else does a DrPH student need in the world of information resources?
What about statistical information and data sources?
Statistical/Data Resources (UCB Library).
Licensed Data Sources at UCB (UCB Library).
D-Lab (UCB): D-Lab provides cross-disciplinary resources for in-depth consulting, training, software support, and more.
What about help with academic writing?
Graduate Writing Center (UCB Grad Division): help on grant proposals, dissertation writing, and more.
Set up your off-campus access to library resources (databases, online journals, etc.) using the Library proxy or Library VPN.
(This page has both set-up and troubleshooting information).
UCB Wi-Fi Options include Eduroam and CalVisitor:
Eduroam, the preferred network for UCB, allows you to access UC Berkeley online resources both at UCB, and while at participating institutions worldwide.
Eduroam requires you to set a WiFi Key.
CalVisitor, UCB's public WiFi network, requires CalNet authentication each time you try to access a licensed resource.