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Public Health: Literature Review Basics

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


A great place to start is with Ebsco.

Click [Choose Databases] to add the following additional databases:

þ Biomedical Reference Collection

þ CINAHL Plus with Full Text: 

þ Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials

þ Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

þ Cochrane Methodology Register

þDatabase of Abstracts & Reviews

þ Health Technology Assessments


þ NHS Economic Evaluation Database: 

þ Nursing & Allied Health Collection

Academic Search Premier

SportDiscus (sports medicine)


*Check the "Apply Related Terms" box to enhance your search

Web of Knowledge

Web of Knowledge - Thomson (Web of Knowledge)
Provides access to Web of Science (Arts & Humanities Citation Index, Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index), Medline, and Journal Citation Reports

**Enables you to sort your results by Times Cited - Highest to lowest

**Does not have a peer-review/refereed/scholarly article limiter.

Global Health

The definitive international public health database, Global Health is the only specialist
bibliographic, abstracting and indexing database dedicated to public health research and
practice.  It *does not have 'peer-review' limiter

Documenting Your Search Strategy

Write a Literature Review

This handout from UNC - Chapel Hill provides several effective strategies for writing the literature review.

  • Include only the most important points from each source -- you want to summarize, not quote from the sources.
  • Include your own conclusions from analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing what you learned from these articles.
  • Avoid plagiarism in your lit review. Consult this tutorial on Academic Integrity if you need some guidance.

10 Minute Lit Review Video

This is a WONDERFUL concise video that was made by North Carolina State University and I really think it is worthwhile to view it!

Keeping Track of what you Find

Peer Review

  • Peer-reviewed
  • Refereed
  • Scholarly

Journals recognized as scholarly by their academic or medical peers

Identify peer-reviewed journals by searching for the journal title in Ulrich's Periodical Directory.

Tips for Searching

**Use synonyms for your concepts
including both more specific and/or more general terminology can be useful and separate these terms by OR

(EX:) blood OR hemoglobin OR plasma

**Use the wildcard symbol (often the asterisk (*)) to truncate
(EX:) child* will retrieve child, child's, children, children's

**Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase
(EX:) "global warming"

    Use Boolean operators when allowed
    AND – use to combine concepts (when both must be present)
    OR – use for synonyms (when either term could be present)
    Use parentheses to group terms

    Keyword Generating Tool

    Thinking About Your Search Topic

    You might like this tool:

    Lack of search success seems to go wrong in two opposite directions --- many results but not focused on the topic or not many at all.


    • Using synonyms
    • Using broader terms
    • Narrowing the search with appropriate other terms
    • That the defaults of the search interface may not be as you expect; words may be searched as a phrase
    • Looking at the indexing terms of search results that are good matches
    • Using limits