Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tips for helping students find statistical studies mentioned in newspapers

Catherine and I were discussing this assignment, which frustrates many students (and some librarians).

You may be asked for help with this assignment in which the students are to find a statistical study mentioned in a newspaper article and then also find the study published in a journal since the beginning of the semester. In the past, when students didn't have any idea, I suggested the Science section of the New York Times as a start to identify studies

But, Catherine and I thought of another search. We realized that studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA frequently receive news coverage. We suggest the following:

Use Factiva to limit your search to The New York Times as the publication.
Then enter keywords (new england journal of medicine or jama) and (survey or study)
and limit your search to 3 months or Feb. 1 to today's date.

This retrieves NYT articles mentioning studies, or surveys, reported in either publication. The NYT usually summarizes how many people were involved in the study, the author(s) and what issue of the publication the study is being published in. (We did retrieve some results that indicate the study is yet to be published but was mentioned at a medical conference.)

We have the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA online so this reduces the frustration students might experience if they find a new article about a study but then learn the journal in which the study is published is not easily available--frequently, meaning online today.

I also tried the search in the Wall Street Journal, revised as (study or survey) and medical and published
and limiting it to the last three months. This retrieved some articles, but it also retrieved some articles mentioning studies published last fall, such as in an article following up on a young scientist's new research.

We hope these tips are helpful.

Catherine and Rita

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