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Public Health: Conducting Analysis

Recommended resources for HPD Master of Public Health (M.P.H.) Program students and faculty

Developing a Research Question

To get started identifying your topic, the first thing you should do is decide which question you want to try and answer. For example, if you're interested in finding out about use of alcoholic beverages by college students, you might pose the question, "What effect does use of alcoholic beverages have on the health of college students?" It's important to choose a topic that you are interested in.

After you've identified your research question, look at what the most important concepts are. In the example above, those are "alcoholic beverages," "health," and "college students." These will be the keywords you'll rely on to search for datasets and journal articles.

If you get stumped trying to narrow your focus, try discussing your research topic with your instructor or visit one of your librarians. You can also look at the readings or assignments in your class to get an idea of what kinds of questions are being asked.

Journal Articles

Journal Articles:
Most statistical data never make it into books and reports. However, statistical data is more commonly published in journal articles. Locating these statistics through databases such as PubMed/Medline and CINAHL can be difficult and challenging.

  • Helpful Medline Keywords: "statistics and numerical data," epidemiology, mortality, morbidity, incidence, prevalence or population surveillance
  • Helpful CINAHL Keywords: epidemiology, disease surveillance, disease registries, morbidity, mortality, or epidemiological research

Advanced Searching Techniques


  • The key to being a savvy online searcher is to use common search techniques that you can apply to almost any database, including article databases, online catalogs, and even commercial search engines.
  • This is important because searching library databases is a bit different from searching Google.
  • The techniques described in this section will enable you to quickly retrieve relevant information from the thousands of records in a database.
  • When you search a database and do not get the results you expect, Ask Us for advice.  Library staff are happy to help you find what you need. 
  • The Advanced Searching Techniques Guide will help you refine your search so that you will become a better researcher. 

Statistical Overview in Sage Research Methods

Using and Interpreting Statistics in the Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences

Focuses on the meaning of statistics and why researchers choose particular techniques, rather than computational skills. Coverage ranges from basic descriptive statistics to more advanced topics such as tests of significance, measures of association, and regression analysis. An opening chapter provides a brief overview of the research process in social, behavioral, and health sciences.

SPSS Statistical Software

SPSS overview available through Linkedin Learning


  • Finding and Using Health Statistics
  • Health Statistics Tutorial

Software Tutorials



SAS Statistical Software

SAS (Statistical Analysis System) is a system of software solutions that allows users to perform anything from data entry and retrieval to report writing and statistical analysis. SAS allows users to perform advanced analytics, multivariate analyses, business intelligence, data management, and predictive analytics. SAS can manage and retrieve data from multiple sources, and users can also manage and manipulate data to prepare for analysis.

Download SAS University Edition (FREE) 

JMP Statistical Software

JMP is a software program used for statistical analysis. It is created by SAS Institute Inc. Unlike SAS (which is command-driven), JMP has a graphical user interface, and is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. JMP is a suite of computer programs for statistical analysis. This software can be used for statistical visualization and exploratory data analysis. It is designed for users to investigate data rather than confirming a hypothesis.  JMP Student Edition download page.

Statistics overviews available on Linkedin Learning

NSU MD Statistical Consulting Center