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Public Health 1 Principles of Public Health

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Research Librarian for the Health Sciences, Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacology, Public Health

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Hector R. Perez-Gilbe
He, Him, His
UC Irvine
Science Library
Room 232
Irvine, CA 92623
(949) 824-6957

Conducting a literature review

There are different methods in how to conduct a literature review - it may depend on the type or source of information you are including.  You will want to build on what is already known, figure out what needs to be known and see if you can contribute to advancing current research and thinking.  Do you have evidence to support your ideas? Has article gone through peer review? Public Health information is covered in the following information products:

  • books and book chapters - includes print and eBooks (digital content), and government information
  • journal articles
  • conference papers & proceedings
  • reference sources - dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, glossaries,
  • data sources - quantifiable numerics - examples, population census, demographic analysis, statistical summaries, opinion polls, etc
  • films & media, journalism, news sources, documentaries, blogs, social media

There are also multiple ways in which to format a bibliography - you are asked to cite or reference all 5 of your sources in the narrative which will follow this outline - read examples in syllabus carefully:

  • Cover page containing Student's name, ID and title/question/topic of your literature review
  • Introduction - why this topic was selected; significance to current time/place; relevance to you, your generation, family, general population
  • several themed paragraphs that explore content from the items you review
  • cite all items in a bibliography from last 10 years (2007-2017) at the end in APA format
  • total submission is 3-5pp

Distinguish your opinions from an annotated bibiography and show examples of critical thinking

Identifying sources

Consider the topic's subject matter - must be related to health - but what other subject areas define it - in what discipline does it fall? It may be Medicine, Psychology, Sociology, Education, Public Policy, etc.  Examples of potential topics may include some of the following:

  1. Americans suffer from obesity - is this really about nutrition, gender differentiation, age sectors, lack of exercise, comparisons to other countries, etc
  2. Role of genetics in cancer occurrence - what types of cancer are most predisposed to family members who may get it in same or subsequent generations; what about cancer screening guidelines; how accurate is the human genome mapping; balancing benefits and risks; merits of early detection; etc
  3. Controversy about whether young children should be vaccinated - what issues support the long history of these controversies; how to build public confidence; what evidence surrounding vaccination shows that prevented suffering and death from any infectious disease outweighs any adverse effects; what about evidence regarding vaccine overload damaging immune systems or causing autism?  Myth or reality?
  4. Relationship between carb-loading and exercise - does excessive carb consumption boost energy by filling glycogen levels?  What is relationship between carbs and protein?  What kinds of studies have been conducted?
  5. How much nutrition is there in school lunches?  Are there state or federal standards or regulations for this?  Is there a difference between primary & secondary schools?  What determines menus?  Any correlation between school lunches and dietary intake and weight management?

Links to Public Health Issues/Themes/Concerns

You will conduct a literature review on a public health issue.  That may include some aspect of the following themes addressed by the course:

  1. What is Public Health - government's role, science, politics, prevention
  2. Assessment - epidemiology, principles, methods, statistical analysis
  3. Infectious Disease
  4. Determinants of Health - social & environmental factors
  5. Effects of Consumption - Nutrition, drugs, tobacco products, Alcohol, wellness,
  6. Causes of Chronic Disease
  7. Gender, Aging and Health conditions - maternal & child health, population demographics/disparities
  8. Planetary Health - climate change effecting global health
  9. Communicating & messaging Pubic Health - via media, news, documentaries, public record
  10. Careers in Public Health

Hints for choosing a topic

Since one can frame the question in different ways - consider the following:

  • Clarity is key - be sure that spelling/punctuation is accurate, sentence structure is grammatically correct
  • Research & write about something you are interested in
  • Posing a question and do you answer it
  • stating a fact with a rhetorical statement
  • what population is effected - gender, age, environment, living, health conditions
  • the big question vs something more specific and limiting (macro vs micro)
  • what previous research work was cited - chronology of the topic
  • what findings are noted
  • is there sufficient evidence to draw conclusions
  • can research be easily replicated
  • what else is new on topic since source was published
  • will this work have a lasting impact or will topic be important in another 5 years

Scholarly Resources

Lots of content can be considered scholarly, but there are some standard criteria:

  • peer-reviewed
  • has it been cited and if so how can you tell
  • leaves an impact on future research
  • increasingly contains data - more empirical or quantitative than qualitative or descriptive
  • bias-free
  • objective
  • cites previous studies

More About APA Style

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA)  was released in July 2009. The following links support  the sixth edition of the manual.  It is available at the Reference Desks at all UCI Libraries at BF76.7 .P83 2010 You will want to make sure that you include examples of works cited and in-text citations.

Locate an available doi here! A doi is a set of numbers (sometimes letters, too) that helps you locate specific texts or objects. Anything can have a doi, but dois are often used to identify articles.