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PH 292: Health & Social Behavior First-Year Seminar: Find Articles and More

Searching PubMed

PubMed: Citations to journal articles on health and medical topics, with links to full text via Get it at UC icon.

PubMed searching top tips:

  1. Combine terms with AND or OR;
  2. Use Filters (eg, Ages, Article types, Languages, etc.);
  3. Search for your term as a word in the title or title or abstract (using Filters, Advanced Search, or Field Tags);
  4. Use MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), with subheadings;
  5. Use the Similar articles link located by each citation;
  6. Always keep in mind the question you are trying to answer when creating a search strategy and when reviewing the articles you find.

PubMed Help Guide: Getting started guide, with link to PubMed exercise set (docx). Start here to learn how to search PubMed more effectively.

PubMed's Clinical Queries:

  • Finding systematic reviews on your topic can help you find more research literature and give you a sense of the body of knowledge on a topic.
  • Using the etiology filter is useful a "cause of disease" search.
  • A therapy search encompasses any type of intervention (including diet, health education, etc.).

Beyond PubMed: Other Resources for Finding Journal Articles and More

Remember those PubMed "Top Tips"? Many are applicable to the databases below as well as several other databases.  Get it at UC icon.

Key Subjects: Medicine; Health; Pharmacology/Toxicology.
Broad biomedical scope. Useful for medicine, genetics, infectious diseases, healthcare policy & management, and more.
Embase does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Emtree above the search box to search or browse for terms.
What's not in PubMed?
    More non-US literature, better coverage of drug/toxicology topics ...
Embase Exercise (docx)

Global Health
Key Subjects: Global Health; Nutrition; Public Health.
Citations in environmental and occupational health, food safety and hygiene, infectious diseases, medical microbiology, nutrition, public health, toxicology, zoonoses, and more. More international coverage than PubMed.
Global Health does use a controlled vocabulary. Use the drop-down menu and select Descriptors then click to browse the thesaurus.
What's not in PubMed?
    Search by (relatively narrow) geographic settings, or country in which work published.

Key Subjects: Psychology; Behavior.
Citations in psychology, behavior, and related disciplines.
PsycINFO does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Thesaurus to search or browse terms.
What's not in PubMed?
    Economic security, community attitudes, test/measurement index ...

PsycInfo Exercise (docx)

Sociological Abstracts
Key Subjects: Sociology; Demography; Social Welfare.
Citations in demography, social psychology, and sociology. 
Sociological Abstracts does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Thesaurus to search or browse terms.
What's not in PubMed?
    Cultural capital, peer relations, victimization, family structure, strategies, neighborhoods, social constructionism, ...

Business Source Complete
Key Subjects: Business; Finance; Economics.
Marketing, management, economics, finance, accounting, and more. Besides journal literature, BSC includes financial data, conference proceedings, case studies, investment research reports, industry reports, market research reports, country reports, company profiles, SWOT analyses, and more.
Business Source does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Subjects on the right side to browse the thesaurus.
Subject terms/features not found in PubMed:
    Search by company or industry, public health topics from a marketing point of view ...

Key Subjects: Education.
Access to education literature, including nutrition education, nutrition instruction, and school lunch programs. Sources include journals, books, conferences and meetings, reports, theses/dissertations, and audiovisual media. ERIC also includes materials on tests, measurement, and evaluation.
ERIC does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Thesaurus to search or browse terms..
What's not in PubMed?
    Nutrition Instruction; Educational Assessment ...

International Bibliography of the Social Sciences
Key Subjects: Social Sciences, with a global scope.
Publications in economics, political science, sociology and anthropology from over 100 countries.
IBSS does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Thesaurus to search or browse terms.
What's not in PubMed?
    Postcolonialism, culture shock, host country, ...

Key Subjects: Multidisciplinary.
Large, multidisciplinary database of citations to articles, conference papers, patents, and more.
Scopus does not use a controlled vocabulary. Scopus uses author and other keywords.
Subject terms/features not found in PubMed:
    Excellent resource for cited reference searching; Journal Analyzer tool assesses journal performance.

Web of Science
Key Subjects: Multidisciplinary.
Large, multidisciplinary database; links to cited articles and times cited are provided for retrieved articles.
Web of Science does not use a controlled vocabulary; it uses author keywords and keywords assigned algorithmically.
What's not in PubMed?
    Scope of database is broad; excellent for cited reference searching.

Cited Reference Searching/Citation Analysis Exercise (docx)

Google Scholar
Key Subjects: Multidisciplinary.
Citations in all topics.
Google Scholar does not use a controlled vocabulary. Use Advanced Search by clicking the ▼ in the search box, then search for title words.
What's not in PubMed?
    Broad topical scope. Be aware that Google Scholar lacks:

  • the ability to use iteration in developing search strategies,
  • any indexing,
  • bulk downloading or saving of records,
  • a complete description of its contents.

Use UC Library Search, the UCB/UC library catalog and more to find books, reports, etc. on your topic. Books, while not often where original research is published, can often provide an overview of a topic and get you started with some key articles.

The above are but a sample of the many databases available to find article and other citations.
See the Public Health Databases guide for more.
Ask a librarian for help if you are having trouble with your topic.

Off Campus Access to Library Resources

Off-campus access is limited to current UC Berkeley 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 should use this 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.

Students: Problems setting up Library Proxy or VPN? Contact your librarian, or Student Technology Services: (510) 642-HELP, or


Online Newspapers & News:
Guide to news sources worldwide. Includes major dailies, local, alternative, and ethnic news sources, and science & health specialty news sources.

Grey Literature

Grey Literature refers to publications not produced by commercial publishers: reports (pre-prints, technical reports, market research reports, etc.), theses, conference proceedings, etc. They are often produced by government entities, research institutions, or NGOs/IGOs.

The Guides to Public Health Subjects consists of topical web pages; each consisting of annotated lists of organizations, agencies, databases, and publications. Topics include:
    • Environmental Health
    • Health Equity
    • Food/Nutrition
    • Maternal and Child Health
    • Health Program Planning, Policy, and Evaluation
and many more.

Google and other search engines can be useful for finding grey literature. Improve your search using:
Quotes for phrase searching:
"social marketing"
Site: to specify a particular site or domain:
"social marketing" (for a domain search)
"social marketing" (for a specific site search)
Boolean search statements (eg, OR):
("social marketing" OR "audience segmentation")

Find Dissertations and Theses, including the full text of most dissertations from 1996 to the present.

National Technical Reports Library (NTRL): over 2 million current and archived technical reports from many government agencies; over 600,000 available full text online.

Systematic and Other Reviews

"Systematic reviews seek to collate all evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to address a specific research question. They aim to minimize bias by using explicit, systematic methods."
(from Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.

The Cochrane Library (Citations of Cochrane's systematic reviews are in PubMed).

Public Health + (Methodologically sound studies from top journals in a browsable, searchable database).

Health Evidence (Methodologically-sound reviews of health promotion and public health interventions).

Database of Promoting Health Effectiveness Reviews (Systematic and non-systematic reviews of effectiveness in health promotion and public health worldwide).

The Campbell Collaboration Library (Systematic reviews in psychology, social welfare, disability, nutrition, etc.).

PubMed always separates review articles among the search results - see the Review filter on the left side of the search results page.