Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Science and Health: December's Theme in the Year of Science

The Year of Science comes to a close with a celebration of science and health - a very fitting focus for the month of December, which began with World AIDS Day, and given a year of concern over the H1N1 virus. Not to mention extraordinarily contentious debates over health insurance/health care reform, and the scrutiny given to health-care legislation in the U.S. Congress. [Track legislation with THOMAS from the Library of Congress]

The theme, though, is science and health, rather than politics, economics, behavior, or social aspects of health. The National Institutes of Health lists dozens of scientific interest groups that function as "assemblies of scientists with common research interests." Member lists for each group might help you identify a contact for an internship or Winter Term project, in addition to showing the broad reach of NIH research support.

The NIH is the "National Medical Research Agency," and is the provider of PubMed ("more than 19 million citations for biomedical articles from MEDLINE and life science journals"). Once only accessible by searching print volumes within a research library, MEDLINE via PubMed is freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. It is one of the great things that our government makes possible - thank you, NIH!

Obviously, you can find health and wellness advice everywhere on the Web, but for comprehensive searching of medical literature, and published studies of scientifically conducted clinical trials, MEDLINE is your best source. You can search it for free as PubMed, or in tandem with any number of EBSCOhost databases (for EBSCOhost subscribers). This is a very efficient way to search multidisciplinary research topics, with quick access to thousands of full-text articles. Link to Academic Search Complete from the Science Library's home page, and look for the "Choose Databases" link at the top of the search screen for a list of all EBSCOhost databases that can be searched simultaneously. Very cool.

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