Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

UC Berkeley’s library buildings are open. Here’s what you need to know.

Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) Library Session: Starting Your Literature Search

URL for this guide:

NOTE: THIS GUIDE IS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED                                             Presented by Michael Sholinbeck

What Is Public Health?

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 is the role of commercial activity, such as advertizing?
  » 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 & More tab.

Access to Online Library Resources & Help

Set up off-campus access to library resources (databases, online journals, etc.) using the Library proxy server or Library VPN
This page has both set-up and troubleshooting information

Information on UCB Wi-Fi Options, including AirBears2 and Eduroam
Use Eduroam to access UC Berkeley online resources while at another institution.

Sheldon Margen Public Health Library hours:
Summer: M-F 10-5
Fall/Spring: M-Th 9-8, F 9-5, Sa-Su 1-5

Reference Services:

  • Call the Public Health Library Reference Desk: (510) 642-2511
  • Visit us in-person at 1 University Hall (in the basement): Summer Reference Desk hours: M-F 2-4pm; Fall/Spring: M-F 10am-12pm and 2-4pm (or make an appointment)
  • 24/7 IM chat reference is available; click the Reference Services link, above.