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OOMPH Library Resources: PHW 220M Health Policy Methods: Find Articles & More

Searching PubMed

 PubMed (and other database) 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 either Filters, Advanced Search, or Field Tags)
  4. Use MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), with subheadings
  5. Use the Related Articles link, once you find a set of relevant citations
  6. Try PubMed's Clinical Queries or Topic-Specific Queries
  7. Always keep in mind the question you are trying to answer when creating a search strategy and when reviewing the articles you find

 3 questions to ask about your search results::

  • Are the results of the studies valid?
  • What are the results?
  • How can I apply these results to my situation?

» PubMed Tips & Tricks: How-to guide with link to a PubMed exercise set.(.docx). Learn how to search PubMed more effectively!

» Clinical Queries include structured searches, such as:
    Systematic reviews on your topic are a gateway to 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.
    Therapy encompasses any type of intervention.

» Topic-Specific Queries are "canned" search strategies to fetch PubMed citation subsets and include:
    Comparative Effectiveness
    Health Disparities
    Healthy People

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. access paid by UCB  

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.

BIOSIS Previews
Key Subjects: Biology; Medicine
Comprehensive database for life science research; includes botany, zoology and microbiology, as well as biomedicine, agriculture, pharmacology, ecology, biochemistry, bioengineering and biotechnology. Also covers instrumentation and methods. Includes journal article citations, books and meeting abstracts, papers and posters.
» Use Concept Codes, Taxonomic Data, and more to focus your BIOSIS Previews search.
» Subject terms/features not found in PubMed:
    Better searching by taxonomic data, includes meeting abstracts ...

Key Subjects: Nutrition; Agriculture Covers agricultural economics, nutrition, hunger, food production, agricultural chemicals, etc.
» Agricola does not use a controlled vocabulary. Use the subject descriptor index to find terms, or focus your search by using title words.
» What's not in PubMed?
    Nutritionally induced diseases, WIC program, women in rural development ...

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.
» BSC 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: Economics; Finance
The most comprehensive index to scholarly journal articles, books, and dissertations in economics and related fields.
» EconLit does use a controlled vocabulary. Click Thesaurus (above the search boxes) to find terms.
» Subject terms/features not found in PubMed:
    Analysis of Health Care Markets, Actuarial Studies of Insurance Companies ...

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 ...

Sociological Abstracts
Key Subjects: Sociology; Demography
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, victim
ization, family structure, strategies, neighborhoods, social constructionism, ...

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.

» Web of Science Cited Reference Searching exercise (docx) 

Note that citation counts are affected by many things; for example, some studies show that articles by men may be cited more than articles by women. (other studies do not show this difference, however)

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.  But 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 the library catalog 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 Databases in Public Health web 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

Grey Literature

Grey Literature generally refers to publications not produced by commercial or association 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 web guide consists of topical web pages; each consisting of annotated lists of organizations, agencies, databases, and publications. Topics include:
    • Environmental Health
    • Food/Nutrition
    • Maternal and Child Health
    • Health Equity
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 2011. Available from

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 Systems Evidence (Syntheses of research evidence about governance, financial and delivery arrangements within health system)

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 link labeled Review on the right side of the search results page. Also, use Clinical Queries to search for systematic reviews in PubMed.

Industry Information and News

Online Newspapers & News Sources (UCB Public Health Library)
The UCB Library subscribes to thousands of online newspapers and news sources. This annotated guide lists several, including public health news sources, and links to the major dailies online

Business Database Finder (UCB Business Library)
Many resources are available to find information on companies and industries. You may be particularly interested in IBISWorld Industry Market Research, which provides online full-text reports for over 700 U.S. industries.