This guide outlines a simple, effective step-by-step approach to finding information for your assignment, based on the resources found on the Health Sciences guide.
If you need individual help please do not hesitate to contact Margaret Paterson, the Health Sciences Librarian.
Develop an effective search strategy
This is necessary because information sources contain millions of records and you want to find the tiny subset that covers your topic. Use the steps below to guide your thinking.
Identify the key ideas for your topic.
These words will form the basis of your search. To do a really effective search on large, international databases you need to think more deeply about the search words you use. Consider what words a variety of authors writing about your topic might use.
You will find your information more effectively by asking the following four questions about your key search words:-
What synonyms or related words might usefully be included in my search? e.g. smoking/tobacco teenagers/adolescents
What about search words with variant endings?
This is specially important for finding both the singular and plural of search words. e.g.child* finds child/children/childhood
Note that in many databases you can use an asterisk at the end of the root word to find other endings.
What about search words with different spellings?
This is important when searching international sources. AskOxford provides a summary of the main differences between British and American spellings.
How do I connect my search words?
How do we logically connect our search words to achieve our intended result?
Use or to connect synonyms and related words. Place brackets around words connected with or. e.g. (smoking OR tobacco).
Use and when you want to focus your search by adding in additional words e.g. smoking AND health
More information about connecting search words
Experiment with combinations of search words to find the ones that retrieve the best information for your topic.
The Library's Health Sciences dictionaries and encyclopedias are reliable sources for definitions of technical terms and background information on medical conditions. Articles from specialized subject encyclopedias are authoritative and often substantial.
If you also use Wikipedia note that the more reliable articles draw on information from quality sources that are referenced at the end of the article. These may provide additional sources for you to pursue. Check any dates given for the currency of the article. You will need to exercise your own judgment about the nature and quality of what you read.
Search the UC Library catalogue to find books, book chapters and reports on your topic
Journals are scholarly publications. Each issue contains a number of different articles by different authors. Many journals cover Health Sciences topics.
To find articles on your specific topic you will need to search the recommended databases for Health Sciences. Most databases link you to the article online if UC has a subscription.
More about using databases to find an article.
The Internet can be a rich source of information but not everything will be useful or appropriate for research use. Web resources should be carefully evaluated and used in conjunction with the scholarly resources provided by the Library.
Health Sciences students may, for example, search the Web to find organisational publications, such as reports, reviews and research. The Advanced search enables you to limit your search to particular domains e.g. .org .govt
Linked below is an online tutorial designed to help UK university students develop their Internet research skills. There is much that will be helpful for New Zealand students, too.
Internet Detective "Wise up to the Web. Learn to discern the good, the bad and the ugly for your online research."
More Google search tips
References recommended on your reading lists have already been evaluated for quality. You will need to evaluate sources that you find yourself. Think critically about the information you find. The quality of your information will contribute to the quality of your assignment.
More on evaluating your sources