Search for Literature
This tutorial will help you search for peer-reviewed literature and information housed in repositories and other open web resources.
Start with peer-reviewed literature published in reputable journals
The peer-review process is one measure to ensure the quality of the source. These are the most comprehensive databases to find peer-reviewed articles.
- PubMed – Bio-Medical Literature
- Limit search to Free Full Text
- This is the most comprehensive database to find references on health topics.
- AgEcon Search – Agriculture and Economics Literature
- Includes sources where agriculture, general environment, and nutrition intersect with health topics.
- ERIC – Educational Literature
- Includes sources where education intersects with health topics.
- Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
- Interdisciplinary – includes many open access journals that cover health topics.
- While DOAJ evaluates journals included in their database, you should still review journals you find (see their criteria for evaluating trustworthiness of a journal).
Next, search repositories and other open web resources
- Government reports
- Conference proceedings
- Business/company reports
- Clinical trials
- Trade literature
Here are established databases to search:
Also search websites of known and trusted organizations
- Fact Sheets
Thoroughly search their sites for pertinent information – don’t settle for typing a few keywords in the search box
- Bookmark pages that have useful information
- Record information that you want to further investigate
- For example, are they collaborating with other organizations you’ve never heard of?
- Record the names of those organizations and look them up separately
- Read content thoroughly. Identify phrases and keywords you might use for additional searches.
Do a broad search of the internet
Follow through on the notes you made during your initial searches. Search for:
- Other organizations that were mentioned
- Specific campaigns or programs that were mentioned
- Original sources of data you found on a site
- Information on a topic that is closely related to yours
- For example, if you’re researching child environmental health, you might see something in your initial search that makes you think you should also research adolescent environmental health