Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SSI2-148: Medical Narratives: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

Multidisciplinary Inquiry

Medical narratives invite analysis from more than one academic discipline.  Such complex topics are often studied through multiple disciplinary lenses.  Yet what is an academic discipline?  Atlhough definitions vary, most scholars agree that an academic discipline shares the following characteristics:

  • A specific focus of study;
  • A specific research methodology;
  • An accumulated body of knowledge that all practitioners share;
  • Theories or concepts that help organize the shared body of knowledge;
  • Specific vocabulary used to describe the shared knowledge;
  • Usually, the discipline is taught in colleges and universities;
  • New disciplines emerge when ruptures, disagreements, or new information can no longer be contained within the "old" discipline.

What do you think are the advantages of academic disciplines?  Might there be any disadvantages?

Most academic disciplines have one or more subject databases that index and disseminate scholarly work within that discipline.  It is impossible to understate how important it is to search disciplinary databases when doing research.  (In the medical sciences, for example, failure to search the relevant databases prior to a clinical trial is malpractice and can result in severe federal sanctions.)

At Collins Library, the main subject databases for each academic discipline taught at the university can be found under the "Articles" tab on each Research by Subject page.

Exploring Academic Disciplines

During this in-class activity, you will have the opportunity to work more closely with an academic discipline as you explore scholarly perspectives on medical narratives.

1. You will be assigned to one of four breakout groups in Zoom and each group will explore one of the following groups of academic disciplines:

  1. Humanities and the Arts
  2. Behavioral and Life Sciences
  3. STEM (Science, technology, engineering, math)
  4. Social Sciences


2. After joining your group, search one of the listed databases and, as a group, respond to the following questions in the class Google doc:

Ebola Database Searching (Section A)

Ebola Database Searching (Section B)


  • Which database did you choose to search? 
  • Run a search for "Ebola" in that database, limit to "peer-reviewed" (if possible), and scan the first page or two of the results. What aspect of Ebola is being discussed? 
  • What are the subject headings for the various scholarly articles and books in your results?  
  • If you wanted to try to find additional relevant results, what search terms besides "Ebola" might you try to use?
  • How could these sources help us interrogate a primary source like Richard Preston's The Hot Zone?
  • How can you get to the full text of articles?
  • How can you save an article for later or send it to yourself?
  • Are there any tools to help you cite articles?
  • Anything else interesting (or frustrating?) about the database?


3.  Discuss your findings with your group members.  After 15 minutes, we will come back together as a class and each group will have an opportunity to share their findings.


Behavioral & Environmental Sciences

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math)

Social Sciences