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Topical Guides: Health Research

Health Research > 4: Supporting Data, Documents & Artifacts

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4A: Types of Resources

Data (such as facts or statistics), documents, artifacts (objects) and biographical information related to your topic will provide support, evidence or credence to your research thesis or claims. The best source for your project will depend on what type of information you are researching. For example, biographical information provides context to a subject's life. Data and statistics illustrate trends or provide support for ideas. Artifacts provide visual evidence for your findings.

It is important to distinguish between the two basic types of information: primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are from the time period you are researching (from the historical context). These sources can include artifacts, statistics, autobiographies or newspapers. Primary sources often form the foundation for a research project. Examples are: Research journals, DNA samples, autobiographies, experiments, patients, etc.

Secondary sources may also form a foundation for research, but more often these sources provide additional support for your ideas. They include Web pages, articles, or contemporary books. The key distinction between primary and secondary sources is that secondary sources interpret primary sources. Textbooks, biographies, and book reviews are good examples of secondary sources.

4B: Examples

Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy

Classic tool for the diagnosis of various medical conditions. Home edition.


Quick health statistics and facts from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Surgeon General Reports on the Web

Includes the full text of most of the Surgeon General reports going back to the 1960's. Also includes proceedings of SG workshops and -- to a lesser degree -- articles, brochures, pamphlets, and photographs from the SG's office.

The Whole Brain Atlas

Photographs of various portions of the brain as seen in a variety of health states.

NCBI Bookshelf

Bookshelf provides free access to books and documents in life science and healthcare. A vital node in the data-rich resource network at NCBI, Bookshelf enables users to easily browse, retrieve, and read content, and spurs discovery of related information.

4C: How to Find More


The official U.S. Government portal to over 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions. It is a source for finding government documents, reports, and statistical data from a variety of federal sources. Search by keyword or use the topical index to browse your way through the documents.

Google Book Search

A beta search tool with scanned pages from thousands of all types of books contributed to Google by publishers and libraries. Your keywords can be searched within the full text of books. Only a limited number of pages can be viewed online for books under copyright restrictions. In these cases, see if OSU or an OhioLINK library own the book for borrowing. Books that are no longer under copyright restriction can be read and printed in their entirety online.

OhioLINK Digital Resource Commons (OSU access)

Audio, video, and image collections provided by OhioLINK.

OSU Library E-Book Collections (OSU access)

These collections are available through the OSU library subscriptions. All titles in these collections can be found through the library catalog, but by connecting directly to a collection, topics and names are searchable within the books.


Search the NCHS FASTATS to determine how deaths are attributed to Alzheimer's Disease annually.

[Links open in new browser window.]

Pop Quiz

Which of the above resources would you use to find out more about common flu symptoms?

Correct answer:[NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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