We have been asked this question many times over the last week, for a number of different courses including FN 1021 and FN 2232. Obviously it will be difficult to address everyone’s needs in one post, but I’ll give it a try.
Most of you have been assigned a fairly vague topic, such as: “Omega-3’s” or “herbs and spices.” My advice is to break your presentation down into parts and then search for information. For example:
- You will likely need some definitions and background information as the first part of your presentation. Your textbook is a logical starting place for this, but we also have some really detailed encyclopedias and dictionaries in our reference section. Here are a few examples:
- Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition: TX349.E562 2003
- Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment: RC71.C97 (also available online)
- For more detailed background information, consider looking for books. Your topic may be only one chapter in a book, so make sure that your search is broad enough.
Why don’t you want to use journal articles for this? You can, but often journal articles are super specific (i.e. looking at the specific health benefits of a specific herb on a specific population). So, make sure you know exactly what information you want before jumping into journal articles.
- Your textbook (or textbooks for other Food Sciences classes) will have bibliographies or reference pages in them, as well, that may help in developing your background summaries. So, if you find a brief section on your topic in a textbook, check the bibliography for that chapter for further reading.
- Journal articles will be helpful when you’re looking for current research. Like I mentioned above, journal articles are usually talking about specific things, but this might be helpful when you’re discussing current issues. A tip would be to use Summon or an academic database to search for articles on your topic, but limit your results to the last few years (e.g. 2012).
What databases should you try for Food Science? Along with the ones we generally recommend for Foods and Nutritional Sciences (Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed, etc), I would try:
- IBIDS (International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements)
- Agricola (AGRICultural Online Access)
- CAB Direct
- Current issues may also be discussed on different websites. Dietitians of Canada or other non-governmental organizations would likely indicate whether your issue is a “hot topic.”
- You may also be interested in whether policies exist on your topic. Consider checking websites like Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, or other governmental agencies that might discuss your topic. Statistics Canada is another place to check (i.e. how many Canadians are cooking with a specific ingredient? Or getting a certain amount of vitamin?). [I have a blog post on searching StatsCan, too].
Hopefully this is enough to get you started! As always, visit the library desk for more assistance!
Like I mentioned in the Choosing a Database post, Foods and Nutrition is a multidisciplinary program. For one assignment you may be looking at social factors for why people choose to eat a certain why, while in another you’re examining the chemical properties of food components. Luckily, Food Science is a largely scientific subject (hence the name). That said, it doesn’t have its own Program Guide on Western Libraries’ website, unlike other Foods and Nutrition subjects (such as Clinical Nutrition or Community Nutrition).
Databases for finding journal articles
Find these resources under the Databases section of Western Libraries’ website
- Academic OneFile
- CAB Direct*
- ProQuest Research Library
- PubMed Central
- Web of Science*
*Start with these databases
Western subscribes to a big collection of Food Science eBooks. To find them quickly, head to the Shared Library Catalogue and choose the “Subject” tab. Change the drop-down menu to “Electronic Resources” and type in “Food Science.” You should get about 150+ results (as of April 18, 2011), on a huge range of topics.
Brescia subscribes to the Annual Review of Food Science and Technology which covers the current and significant developments in the area of Food Science each year. We also have print copies available in the library.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a number of other databases specific to Food Science:
For further assistance, see the General Foods and Nutrition Program Guide on Western Libraries’ website, or ask for research assistance at the Brescia circulation desk!
Yes! You can access this information online thanks to the Data Liberation Initiative, the government’s way of providing statistical data to post-secondary institutions.
For the CCHS survey data:
- Head to the main Statistics Canada website
- Choose the “Key Resource” tab near the bottom of the screen
- Choose “CANSIM” under the Data tables heading
- Click the “Survey” Tab in the middle of the screen
- Scroll down to the Canadian Community Health Survey. You’ll notice that there is also a “Nutrition” option, if you prefer (click the title to access)
Once you’re into the survey, you have a few choices:
- To find how people responded to the survey: read the Titles of the different tables available and then click the Table Number (i.e. 105-2002) next to the Title you want. Once you’re in, you can create a customized table of the data (see a library staff member if you need assistance here)
- To look at the questionnaire itself: click the Survey Number next to the title of the survey at the top of the screen (in this case, it’s 5049). There’s lots of other neat information here, too
For the CCHS Cycle 2.2, Nutrition (2004) Nutrient Intake data release, make sure to visit:
Foods and Nutrition students may also be interested in:
Updated Summer, 2011:
Foods and Nutrition is a very interdisciplinary subject, which makes choosing a database that much more difficult. Luckily, Western Libraries and Brescia introduced a new product called Summon over the summer of 2011 that can act as an easy starting place for interdisciplinary programs. I recommend starting your search in Summon: you should be able to get a good foundation of articles using this product, so that choosing a database becomes your “step two.”
After consulting Summon, it’s important to review what research you already have. Then you can move on to making a list of what information you still need (i.e. what questions do you still have to answer? What is it that you’re looking for?) After that, you’ll need to choose a database based on the research you still need to find. Here are some options for you:
Some of your courses are quite science-heavy (i.e. Food Science, Clinical Nutrition), so the following databases will be suitable for sciencey research needs:
- PubMed (current research in medicine, nursing and health care)
- Web of Knowledge (huge, broad science database)
- Scopus (chemistry, math, physics, life sciences, health sciences)
- IBIDS (stuff on dietary supplements, vitamins and botanicals here)
- CINAHL (health sciences and medicine)
A lot of your assignments will have a more social science angle (i.e. you might have to look at people’s motivations or behaviour), especially in classes like community nutrition. For these types of research questions, you can try the following:
- Web of Knowledge (again, huge broad database with lots of social science information, too)
- Scopus (also good for social science)
- ProQuest Research Library (another super huge database – has information on almost everything)
- ERIC (for education information, if you’re doing a project on community nutrition)
- PsycINFO (for psychology information, like if you need motivation or behaviour information)