This post originally appeared on JPHMP Direct, the companion site of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.
Regardless of your stage of training, public health discipline, or area of focus, you will undoubtedly need to conduct a search of the literature to identify epidemiologic data, evidence-based practices, measures, methods, or tools to support and enhance your work. While there are a number of search engines available to you, both governmental (eg, PubMed) and commercial (eg, Ovid, Google Scholar) in origin, they can come with financial costs, a steep learning curve, or limited scope of query. While some, such as Google Scholar and PubMed have help pages, blogs, or extensive tutorials, it can be difficult to generate search terms for unfamiliar topics. In cases like this, journals can be helpful in assisting you with gaining momentum in your search because many journals have two useful products you can utilize: supplements and collections.
A supplement is a collection of articles that may be composed of related projects that comprise a larger initiative (such as our supplement on Public Health Interventions to Reduce Sodium Intake), or a series of articles on a shared topic (such as our supplement on Health Equity). Supplements may be of distinct value to members of the policy and practice communities who lack access to academic libraries, as supplements are very often sponsored by philanthropic organizations, such as the de Beaumont Foundation or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or governmental agencies such as the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the US Department of Health and Human Services. As such, these articles are free to download from the journal website.
Another useful tool utilized by a number of Wolters Kluwer Health journals such as JPHMP, Epidemiology, Family and Community Health, and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise(to name a few), is the “collection” tool. Collections are usually topically similar articles that were published as part of a supplement or in different issues, which are aggregated at a later date. As such, they can be an excellent starting place for your research, as they can help you familiarize yourself with a topic, and give you a number of leads to follow in the reference list of the articles they contain. The JPHMP will be debuting a number of new collections in the coming months, which will focus on topics that we’ve published on regularly over the last five years. Our newest collection is Workforce Development, which contains more than seventy articles, many of which are freely accessible without a subscription. As such, journals such as JPHMP can serve as an excellent resource for jump starting your literature search or helping you get up to speed on a certain topic with minimal time investment hunting down relevant articles..
Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM, is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice and an Associate Professor in the Department of Implementation Science of the Wake Forest School of Medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, USA. Follow him at Twitter and Instagram.