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URST 515: Politics: Public Policy and Health: Home

Finding Articles

These databases can be used to find resources for your topic.

Search Strategies

Keywords: Databases require that you search using keywords, rather than questions. You cannot search "What are the prevention strategies for early childhood obesity" the way you might in Google. The databases search for everything you enter, which means they are also searching for "what" "are" and "the," which could clutter your results, or narrow them too much.

Thus, you must select keywords to search: prevention, early childhood, obesity can be pulled out.

Synonyms: Since the databases will search for ONLY what you enter, often time you have to think of synonyms for your keywords. Early childhood obesity could also be referred to as pediatric obesity, or perhaps infant obesity. Sometimes it's easiest to do multiple searches using these different terms. Other times you might want to use Boolean search terms to use a single search.

Use this worksheet to practice pulling out keywords and thinking of synonyms.

And, Or, and Not (Boolean Search Terms):

  • AND: using AND means that you are searching for both term 1 and term 2, e.g. Early AND childhood AND obesity. The default in databases is to search as if there is AND between all of your keywords, so you do not always need to enter it (you can simply search early childhood obesity).
  • OR: using OR allows you to search for two similar terms simultaneously. As mentioned with synonyms, there could be multiple terms you want to use to search for the same thing. OR allows you to do this, e.g. ("Early childhood" OR pediatric OR infant) AND obesity
  • NOT: NOT allows you to specify that you do not want results with a certain keyword. Perhaps you want to look at early childhood obesity, but you do not want to consider diabetes, and you are getting a lot of results that include it. You can add NOT diabetes to your search. Be very careful with NOT, as it will exclude results with ANY mention of diabetes, for example, and article saying diabetes was not considered, which is actually what you are looking for in this example. NOT should always be used judiciously and should only be added when necessary, not included in an initial search.

For a visual representation of Boolean search terms, see these venn diagrams.

Quotation Marks: Quotation marks allow you to search for an exact phrase. "Childhood Obesity" will search for occurences of the exact phrase, not articles that have childhood in one place and obesity in another sentence. This can be very useful, but do not assume that it is always required. Especially when there are synonyms for some of your keywords, or if you aren't entirely sure you search terms will get you the correct results, doing the broader search without quotations might be a safer place to start.

Wildcard: Most databases have a wildcard symbol, which allows you to search for all of the variable endings of a root word. For example, educat* will search for educate, education, educational, and educator. However, be careful, because sometimes unrelated words might share the same root. You might want to search for policy or policies, but polic* will also give you police.

Remember: These databases are not smart like Google. Google will autocorrect and say "I think you meant this." These databases will search for exactly what you type, which means sometimes you have to try a few different things. If you have trouble finding sources, contact a librarian for help.

Burke's Parlor

“Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.”

Burke, Kenneth. The Philosophy of Literary Form. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1941.

Citation Practice: Reference List

The below citations each have one mistake in them. Identify the errors.

Ebbeling, C. B., Pawlak, D. B., & Ludwig, D. S. (2002). Childhood obesity: Public-health crisis, common sense cure. The lancet360(9331), 473-482.

Birch, L. L., & Ventura, A. K. (2009). Preventing Childhood Obesity: What Works?. International Journal of Obesity33, S74-S81.

Kraak, V. A., Liverman, C. T., & Koplan, J. P. (Eds.). (2005). Preventing childhood obesity: Health in the balance. National Academies Press.

Ferdman, R. (2016, May 2). “A widely held belief about childhood obesity that simply isn’t true.” The Washington Post. Retrieved from:

Wojcicki, J. M., & Heyman, M. B. (2010). Let's move—childhood obesity prevention from pregnancy and infancy onward. New England Journal of Medicine362(16), p. 1457-1459.

Subject Guide

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Faith Rusk
Building 39, Room B020
Van Ness Campus

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