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

OOMPH Library Resources: First On-Campus Week/Orientation & PHW 200E: Start A Literature Search

URL for this guide:

Presented by Michael Sholinbeck,

Did you know what is available for OOMPH students?

Access to Online Library Resources & Help

Set up 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 WiFi Options:
Eduroam allows you to access UC Berkeley online resources both at UCB, and while at participating institutions worldwide where you can use Eduroam even with campus closed.
Eduroam require you to set a WiFi Key.
CalVisitor, UCB's public WiFi network, requires CalNet authentication each time you try to access a licensed resource.

Reference Services:

  • Students may email the Public Health Librarian for help with researching a topic, finding online articles, books, data, etc., problems with VPN or Proxy Server, etc.
  • Library Reference Help FAQ: Answers to OOMPH students' most commonly asked questions
  • In-person reference has been suspended until after the library re-opens
  • You may also make a (virtual) appointment
  • 24/7 IM chat reference is also available; see box to the right of this one

Search Tips handout (PDF): Some tips on what to do if you get too many, too few, or not the "right" citations

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 racism: redlining, school budgets, voter suppression?
-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?
-What about the healthcare and health insurance system?

  ...Consider that how issues are framed is influenced by our assumptions and biases, and also, keep swimming upstream!

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 habits, eating ..?
-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.

Questions, questions...

Considering the question a research article addresses may help you determine if it's relevant to your needs.
Below are some examples of questions or lines of inquiry:

  • Are their racial or ethnic disparities in type 1 diabetes mellitus prevalence?
  • Compare and contrast personal versus "upstream" factors relevant to these disparities.
  • Describe examples of what may reduce these disparities, and differentiate between personal and upstream factors. 
  • If a policy or program increases disparities, what are possible reasons for this? Differentiate between personal and systemic factors.
  • Describe a plan/program/policy to reduce these disparities.
  • Justify why systemic or upstream factors contribute more to these disparities than personal factors.

Compare these two questions, to help evaluate any intervention studies you read:

  • "Our intervention worked toward fixing Problem X"
  • "The best interventions for fixing Problem X are ..."

Finding a systematic review that addresses the question you are interested in can be very helpful

Public Health Librarian

Profile Photo
Michael Sholinbeck

Schedule a consultation,
or visit during my office hours
@ BPH DREAM Office (Room 2220, Berkeley Way West Bldg),
Tuesdays 430-6pm; Thursdays 130-3pm
(Contact me for Zoom alternative)
Subjects: Public Health

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