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Environmental Public Health/Public Health Inspector: Get Started

Find a Topic

Find Ideas from

  • Class discussions or readings
  • Current events and news reports
  • Articles in journals and trade publications
  • Gaps in published research
  • What interests you

Gain broad understanding of your topic 

  • Become more familiar with the topic
  • Define &/or Identify common terms and language
  • Provide context and identify differing perspectives
  • Narrow your focus on subjects within the topic
  • Identify experts &/or theories related to the topic 

Preparation is very important. Think about the key concepts and synonyms relevant to your topic.

Searching for background information:

  • Provides a general overview of the topic and enhances your understanding of it, within the larger scope of the discipline.
  • Helps identify important facts -- terminology, dates, events, history, organizations, etc.
  • Helps refine/narrow your topic based on the new information you are learning.
  • Leads to bibliographies which provide additional sources of information.

The publication types below contain different types of information on different academic levels.

 Type of   Information Sources (see tab on the right for examples) 
 Open Web   (Wikipedia  Textbooks   Article  Databases 

 Canadian Points of View 

Google   Scholar
 Background &   General  Info  X X X
 Original   Research     X    
 Reviews     X    
 Statistics X        

* Use in combination with other sources since the information in Wikipedia has been found to be incomplete

EXAMPLES of the types of information listed above:

General Info: definitions, certification or degree info, professional practice standards, professional organization info

Original Research: benchmarks, randomized controlled trials, cohort studies

Reviews: compilation or overview of research evidence

Statistics: population counts, etc.

Full Text of an Article: when you have the citation, enter the article title in the search box

Textbook: course materials

1.    Open Web: 
(online encyclopedias and dictionaries, professional organizations’ sites, universities’ and colleges’ sites, and government sites

2.    Article Databases: 

Reference books include encyclopaedias, handbooks, dictionaries, bibliographies and directories. Use them to define terms, or find topic overviews. These books will help you get familiarized with your topic. Find more by searching the library catalogue.

 Encyclopaedia,   and Dictionaries:

 The Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, 2018

 MedlinePlus includes an Encyclopedia.

 Mosby's dictionary of medicine, nursing & health professions.               R 121 M89 2022

 Wikipedia (use with caution). Use it for a very general overview of your topic and for its list of References or Further Readings at the end of the essay.


 Visual Thesaurus -- allows you to try 3 "visual searches" for free; it is subscription based. It creates word maps.

 Wordnik -- online dictionary that integrates visualization tools, social media, etc. Other features: historical popularity of a word, feeds of real-time mention in twitter, etc.

 Handbooks at the BCIT Library:

 Current medical diagnosis & treatment 

RC 71 A14 2021

Identify research concepts and alternative terms

The impact of cultural identity on healthcare in Canada



"cultural identity" 


 "ethnic identity" OR "social identification" OR "social factors" 



"health care" OR "health services"

 Canada  OR   Canad*


Search on database:


Are you aware of your bias (inclination or prejudice) toward the topic you choose? 

Bias will affect how you formulate the question, where you look for information, and what articles you include in your work. 

Are you selecting sources which confirm your belief and are you disregarding any contradictory evidence or dissenting opinion?

Critical Appraisal

In-Class Quiz #1

Which one is the most useful resource to help you begin to understand the basics of a topic?:
Wikipedia/Encyclopedia: 12 votes (52.17%)
Other students: 1 votes (4.35%)
Textbook: 3 votes (13.04%)
Newspaper article: 7 votes (30.43%)
Total Votes: 23

In-Class Quiz #2

Textbooks & encyclopedias are often used to:
Find a good intro/overview of a topic: 18 votes (81.82%)
Find patient handouts: 0 votes (0%)
Find a unique case study: 1 votes (4.55%)
Find the most current information: 3 votes (13.64%)
Total Votes: 22