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VIC122 Scientific Evidence in Public Policy

Finding Scholarly Journal Articles: Key Databases

Below are links to the key subject databases and citation indexes in the health sciences.



Contains scholarly, government, and popular sources on environmental issues.



Google Scholar

Web of Science

Types of Sources in the Health Sciences

The universe of healthcare-related information includes a variety of types of sources, beyond the distinction between scholarly and popular. Different types of sources serve different purposes. Below is a definition of some common types of sources you will encounter when researching in the health sciences.

Research articles are articles that report on original research studies, usually written by the researcher(s) who conducted the studies. As such, they are “primary sources.” These research studies can themselves take a variety of forms, including clinical trials, program assessments, case studies, and classic experiments.

These articles are published in research journals, but these journals can also contain other types of material such as editorials, news, book reviews, and information about professional conferences. Research articles are often peer reviewed but the other content will not be.

Review articles are articles that summarize and evaluate “primary” research studies and are thus a form of secondary literature. An important type of review article in the health sciences is the systematic review.

Systematic reviews are articles that identify, evaluate, and synthesize the empirical literature related to a research question. The inclusion of empirical studies is based on pre-specified eligibility criteria. In contrast to research articles, systematic reviews are a form “secondary literature.” Systematic reviews are different from narrative reviews or literature reviews in other fields.

created by: Colin Deinhardt | updated: 11 December 2019