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Health Topics for Nonmajors: General Research Guide: Finding Web Sites

Health is everywhere, and if you are a student in introductory English, communications, or public speaking, this guide exists to make that research easier. This guide is especially helpful to students in Engl1101 and PHED1101.

Medical Meta Sites

Medical Meta Sites This nurse
looks like she is dancing


These are sites that list carefully chosen links to a variety of health science pages. Usually scientists, doctors, librarians, or trained editors have selected teh links and arranged them. Such sites nearly always feature search engines, and their editors carefully screen out quacks, hoaxes, and junk.

Medline Plus 
This site features not only brief articles from such authoritative government and private agencies as the National Institute of Health and the Mayo Clinic, but it also has its own medical dictionary, medical encyclopedia with illustrations, and a gateway to the PubMed database, a free version of Medline that is partially full text.

National Library of Medicine
This site features not only a link to Medline Plus, but also clinical trials, the Medline database, a medical encyclopedia, and a medical dictionary with diagrams. This site is especially useful for anatomy and physiology students.

Health on the Net Foundation
A search engine that lets you look for sites that meet either the HONCode or HONSelect's strict set of guidelines. This means the approved sites are low in advertising, have authors who state their credentials, and offer credible health science information.

Health in the News

young man doing Tai-ChiHealth in the News

This section really asks the question whether there is any such thing as a "web page" any more. All of these sites, are extensions of prestigious print or broadcast media with with giant reputations to preserve. Even these sites' blogs have to live up to the parent magazines, newspaper, or television station's standard of quality.

Washington Post -- Wellness
The Washington Post offers readable articles on: health, fitness, nutrition, with the emphasis on prevention. Note: The Washington Post has a paywall that lets you read a limited number of free articles. You can read unlimited articles via ProQuest News and Newspapers.

Consumer Reports -- Healthy Living
The online version of the famous, advertising-free publication, features articles on nutrition, health insurance, fitness, and evaluation of health related products and services.

Scientific American -- Health & Medicine
This credible magazine's site features up-to-the minute health news, its own health blogs, articles and videos about advances in the world of health and medicine. Note: some of the longer articles or articles in their full length hide behind a paywall. You can find those on GALILEO.

CNN Health
CNN has short health articles (and videos), on a variety of medical topics, mainly diseases and treatments along with some preventive health in addition. Most of the aritcles hide behind the headlines. Question and Answer along with the Daily Dose are the best places to find health information.

Science News
This is the online version of the magazine known for short, readable articles on all aspects of science including human biology, psychology, and medicine. For best results, look through the Humans and Body and Brain section. The site claims to offer blogs, but they are still largely in development.

The New Yorker -- Science and Tech
The venerable magazine's long, readable articles on health, technology, and medicine. The New Yorker now has a four article paywayll. You can read unlimited articles via Academic Search Complete.

Prominent Personalities

Blogs and Personalities It's a nurse without feet


Yes, medical writers and broadcasters have pages and blogs. Here are several of them. Technically, these are personal sites, but they bask in the credible glow of their creators' reputations.

Blogs and Columns -- MedPage Today Physicians, medical writers, and other health care workers comment on the financial and practice side of health care, new developments, and medical careers.

Doc's Opnion Dr. Axel F. Sigurdsson, a cardiologist in Iceland, writes comprehensible, long form articles with an emphasis on preventive health. Articles appear approximately once per , month.

A Piece of My Mind The Journal of the American Medical Association's weekly column on the human and social side of medicine. Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel write these pieces.

The Pump Handle Students don't often think of safety at work as part of health, but maybe that should change. Written by a collection of journalists, scientists, and phsyicians, and once hosted on the prestigious SciBlogs, this site provides readable and credible articles on everything from black lung to infant mortality.

The Case Against Google

The Case Against Google


Often the first place students look for web sites for their research is Google. This is a mistake. It is NOT a mistake because Google is an outstandingly BAD place to look for information or because the results it offers are especially flawed. Google covers a lot of the web, and usually pulls in enough results, that they usually contain something worthwhile.

There is also Google Scholar which leads to article references and book citations. Most of Google Scholar is NOT full text,  and Google Scholar often leads to publishers' web sites or to JSTOR, which does not have current science articles.

Google also poses threats to your privacy. The search engine keeps cookies and records of your searches more or less indefinitely. If you must search Google, use an advertising free, privacy enhanced version, StartPage.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, Google does not sort pages by quality. It uses an automated system that ranks pages on relevance and rank, a calculation based on incoming and outgoing links. A PDF document or paper on an academic site or a newly printed blog entry at a reputable news site is unlikely to receive a highly visible spot on Google's front page. Worse still, Google places poorly differentiated, sponsored links in the top position of nearly every set of search results.

There are no human editors at Google to choose the best sites and put them in top position, and Google does not have a repuation as a first rank publication that it must maintain with accurate, high quality content. Choosing sites where human editors and professional indexers produce or choose the material, and selecting among those sites' links, blogs, columns, and other pages is a much better approach than a Google search.

In addition, here is a page on how Google works and on page rank:

How Google Works A fairly readable description of how Google indexes pages and how it indexes and ranks results.