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SSI2-148: Medical Narratives: Articles

Where Do I Search?

A good starting point for academic work is one or more of the many databases available through the library's website. Databases provide access and content to sources that are generally not available on the open web through a general search engine like Google.

Every database contains only certain types and amounts of information. Which one you choose depends almost entirely on the context of your research project. There is no single database or web search interface that will work for every research context; instead, you'll need to match your specific research needs to a variety of options.

Library catalog searches (i.e., Primo) can be the better choice when you are seeking in-depth, book-length treatments of a topic.

Multidisciplinary databases cover a wide variety of subject areas and may include a mix of popular and scholarly sources. They are good resources when you begin your research.  JSTOR is an example of a multidisciplinary database.

Subject databases cover a specific discipline and provide the widest range of access to scholarly sources. They are used for in-depth research. The MLA International Bibliography is an example of a subject database. Which subject databases you search will be determined by who may be writing about your topic. 

Forming a Research Question

Research is not passive reporting, it is a search for answers. A research question is what drives your research project; it is something that you want to know about your topic and it is something you want to explore and try to answer in your research project. 

Research typically begins with a topic that has piqued your curiosity.  When you're researching a topic, you typically are interested in questions of whowhatwhere and when.

As you learn more about your chosen topic, however, you'll discover that scholars may have different approaches and arguments about the topic, and you'll start to ask your own research questions.  Research questions typically begin with why or how.

When you've selected a research question to explore and are ready to make an argument as to how to answer it, you'll come up with a thesis.

Database Search Tips

Don't forget to prepare a list of related terms and concepts but BEFORE you begin searching! This will save you time a give you a sense of direction as you search.

Always use the advanced search interface and some combination of the following techniques to increase the effectiveness of your searches:

Search Technique   What It Does
quotation marks Searches for exact phrase
Truncation (usually an *) Searches for all forms of a word
Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) Lets you broaden or narrow your search
Database thesaurus or index             Allows you to pinpoint the exact indexing terms the database uses

 

Here's an example in action:
Medical Narrative Search Example

Reading a Scholarly Article

During the preview phase, you'll want to concentrate on these key elements:

  • Abstract (if available)
  • First paragraph (sometimes the second paragraph, too): What does the author want to find out? What is the research question the author is asking?
  • Evidence: What are the primary sources the author uses?
  • Scholarly conversation: What are the other scholarly works (secondary sources) the author uses?
  • Conclusion (typically the last paragraph): How does the author tie the evidence together to answer the research question? What is the significance of this research?

Once you've selected the article, you can actively read for content, argument, analysis and evaluation. 

Tip: Read the article more than once! It may help to print out a copy so that you can make notes.

Reading a Citation

When reading a citation, break it down into parts. Check out the color-coded example below:

Tyreman, Stephen. "The Happy Genius Of My Household: Phenomenological And Poetic Journeys Into Health And Illness." Medicine, Health Care And Philosophy: A European Journal, vol. 14, no. 32011, pp. 301-311. 

Author Last Name, First Name. "Article Title." Journal Title, Volume No., Issue No., Year of Publication, pp. page numbers

Tip: The most common pitfall of reading citations is mixing up the article and journal titles. Remember when searching Primo to find out if we have access to an article: it will be most efficient to search for the journal title.

Subject Databases

These subject databases may be especially useful for your research projects for this class. Depending on your topic and your angle, you may wish to search additional subject databases. 

Multidisciplinary Databases

The databases listed below are examples of multidisciplinary finding aids.

Note: If you need discipline-specific resources, it is better to use the recommended subject databases under the "articles" tab in the library subject guides

Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches open access materials as well as items from many publishers, including some of the resources to which Collins Library subscribes. However, Google Scholar only searches a fraction of the published scholarly literature. Use the databases listed on this page as well as others found on the database A-Z list.

Tips:

  • Use advanced searching to search phrases, authors, publications, and dates.
  • Google Scholar includes many citations that link directly to publishers' web sites of which most will charge a fee for access. However, Collins Library may subscribe to these publications. Search the journal title in Primo.
  • Google Scholar provides forward citation searching, automatically extracting and displaying works cited as separate results.
Google Scholar Search

Tipasa: Interlibrary Loan

Tipasa logo

If your article is not available at Collins Library, you've got another option for getting it. Use Tipasa, our interlibrary loan service.

Tipasa is linked to your library account so you'll need to log in to use it.

Once you are logged in, either go directly to Tipasa and manually enter the information, or, if you're using a database, look for a shortcut link to automatically fill out the form, like this:

Interlibrary Loan Link

Allow at least a week for the article to come. If your article is delivered in electronic format, you'll receive an email with a link to follow as soon as it's arrived.

Need Help?

This subject guide highlights only a small portion of the many resources available to you. If you're not finding what you need, don't hesitate to contact Katy!

Katy Curtis, Humanities Librarian
email: kcurtis@pugetsound.edu
Schedule an appointment
tel: (253) 879-3672
office: Collins Library 140

If you can't find Katy, remember there are several ways to get help with your research

For immediate assistance, connect to our 24/7 Ask a Librarian chat service.