Health: Find the evidence

Journal articles and journals

Facts and Myths [Source: purchased from Dollar photo club,]Databases are search tools for finding articles, papers, reports, book chapters and more. Search by topic , author, or in a specific publication. Scholarly references are best found in databases.

Databases can be discipline specific (such as CINAHL), or multidisciplinary (such as Scopus). Many contain full text material, or the reference and abstract only. Find more databases by browsing the database list by subject.

Some key databases:

[mgsloan, 'Stylized Computer', CC Licence: CC0 1.0, Image Source: Open Clip Art Library]Journals are the primary medium for scholarly communication and account for a large percentage of university research output. They:

  • provide highly focused information
  • can be the best source of the latest material on a topic
  • can sometimes be one of the few (or only) sources of scholarly information on a topic

Journals are generally published on a regular basis (e.g. issues are released monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly etc.).

Remember to evaluate! Just as with books, there are different types of of journals. Not all journals are suitable for your assignments.



Books can provide:[Horia Varlan, 'Hardcover book gutter and pages', CC Licence: CC BY 2.0 (, Image source: Flickr (]

  • definitions
  • topic overviews
  • step-by-step guides
  • in-depth information on a topic

...and much more comprehensive coverage of a topic than a webpage. Many books in the Library's collection are written or edited by people with expertise in the relevant field.

Types of books

There are a number of different types of books that you may need to use. For example:

Reference books - includes encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries, bibliographies and directories. Consult them to define terms or  find specific information. Search for them using the catalogue, like any other book.

Textbooks - provide instructional material intended for educational purposes. Textbooks are frequently updated as the material can become out of date very quickly.
Scholarly books - written on specific subjects and usually for a specific audience. Scholarly materials are necessary for university-level research in most disciplines.

You should evaluate any books you use to decide if you should use it in your research. For helping doing this see the Evaluate page.

Find books and videos by searching the Library catalogue.

Quick tips

  • Search for the Title or Author by changing the drop-down menu from All fields
  • Use double quotes for phrases e.g. "physical activity"
  • Use the truncation symbol * to find alternative word endings e.g. "health promotion" communit*
  • Limit to Format by selecting Book

ELearning image [Source: Dollar photo club,]An ebook is a digital book. It functions just like a traditional print book, but it can be enhanced with technology to make it connected and interactive.

Ebooks are accessed through the internet and read using computers, tablets, smartphones or ereaders.

To find ebooks you can limit your results by Format: Books, then Show only: Full text Online

Catalogue search example [Image source: UniSA Library]

For help finding, using and downloading UniSA Library ebooks see the:

A subject search in the Library catalogue may help focus your search and find relevant results.

Search in the subject field by changing the drop-down menu from All Fields to Subject. For example:

Book [Horia Varlan, 'Hardcover book gutter and pages', CC Licence: CC BY 2.0 (, Image source: Flickr (]


Talking Papers

UniSA’s new ‘Talking Papers’ video series profiles our academics discussing their high-impact research in a manner that is easily understandable by non-discipline experts. The first release includes:

  • Professor Nico Voelcker – Nano algae turn cancer killers
  • Dr Siobhan Banks – Better sleep for shift workers
  • Professor Adrian Esterman – Atrial fibrillation patients kept out of hospital

Finding references in the Library


What is a Scholarly Source?

This video explains what is meant by "Scholarly Sources"  or sometimes "Academic Sources".

Click the link to watch (2:45 minutes).



Search help

Databases may look different but how you apply your search strategy to them is often very similar.

This video shows you how to apply your search to the database Academic Search Premier (via EbscoHost) and Scopus. [Low quality version of video available]

Shows you how to search CINAHL (via EbscoHost). [Low quality version of video available]

Shows how to apply your search in Scopus. [Low quality version of video available]

  1. Physicians for Human Rights, ‘PHR-IL's Open Clinic for Migrants and Asylum Seekers’, June 1910, CC License 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)  (, Image source: Flickr ('t know much about the topic area? Do some background reading, for example look in your textbook(s), or a try a relevant book.
  2. Look at the terms used in any key articles found. For example, look at the abstract, subject headings or author supplied keywords. Can you use these terms to further revise your search?
  3. Look at the reference list of any key articles found, these may be relevant.
  4. If you cannot find what you need in one database, try another one.
  5. Change your search. You may need to re-work it by adding another concept to focus it further, or removing a concept to broaden it. Are there any synonyms (similar keywords) you need to add?
  6. Searching for evidence takes time and practice. You may need to revise your search several times before you find what you need.

Some website starters

Grey literature