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HSCI 132:History of Preventive Medicine and Public Health

Professor John Schillinger


Write short technical papers on health care crisis or global climate change


Developing a Search Strategy for Your Topic




What is your assignment prompt? What questions do you need to answer about the topic? Brainstorm for keywords and key phrases that express the major concepts or issues involved, including synonyms and related terms.

Examples: Topic Prompt and Keywords

Topic/Prompt: health care crisis    - healthcare or health care or medical care

                                                                  crisis or reform*

                            global climate change - climate or climatic

                                                                        change or changes

                                                                          global or world or worldwide

Finding Newspaper and Magazine Articles

The following databases and sources contain many full-text articles from newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals from around the country, and the world.

Start at the library's home page, http://library.csun.edu, and click "Find Articles by Subject" Then click "General/Multi-subject" or "News & Current Issues" or "Health Sciences + Nursing" to access the databases above.

Evaluating Search Results

Once you find an article, it is important to critically evaluate it to see if you can use it for your research purposes. Listed below are things to think about when trying to determine the value of a particular article:

  • Skim the list of article citations: Do your keywords appear in any of them?
  • Read article abstracts (or summaries): How well does each article pertain to your topic?
  • What kind of information does each citation/abstract/article appear to provide about your topic? Is it a research findings report, critical analysis, editorial or commentary, news report, or investigative report?
  • Consider the currency of each citation--when was the article published? This will be more or less important, depending on your topic.


Evaluating Web Sites (should you believe everything you read online?)

What to look for (for a more detailed version go to: http://library.csun.edu/Guides/ResearchStrategies/EvaluatingLibraryResources)

  • Authority - Who is the author?  What's his/her background, education, experience?  Would you trust the organizations they are affiliated with?  Can you find contact information?
  • Content & Coverage - What does it cover?  Is it aimed at experts?  Is the information relevant?
  • Timeliness - When was it written?  When was it last updated?  Is the information still current?
  • Accuracy - Can you check the information somewhere else?  (Especially important for things like Wikipedia!)  Has someone else reviewed the content?  Does it include a list of works cited or other clues to how the information was found?
  • Objectivity - Does the site have a bias?  Are there advertisements or links to organizations that might be a clue? 


Accessing Library Resources from Off Campus

As a CSUN student you can access most databases from off campus, anywhere around the world. You just need to make sure you have your PORTAL username and password. When you click on a database from off campus, you'll see the following screen. When you've entered the ID and password information, you'll be redirected to the database




How to Cite Articles

  • Determine which citation style to use; the two most commonly used at CSUN are MLA and APA. If your professor didn't specify, pick one and use it consistently.
  • Check the sample style sheets (MLA or APA) to see what information the article citation should contain and how it should be formatted.
  • Be sure to indicate where material you quoted directly or paraphrased came from.

For more information, see Citing Your Sources - Plagiarism.