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Expos 20 | What is Health?



This resource guide has been designed for students in  WHAT IS HEALTH?, a Spring 2021 Expos 20 course taught by  Eve Wittenberg.

The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might find topic ideas, background information, research studies, and current scholarly conversations from the disciplines most closely aligned with student health: medicine, psychology, education, and sociology. 

Remember that good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads. You may need to try several search combinations before you strike gold. 

Let me know if questions arise at any point in your project. We'll triage by email or set up a time to meet in person.  

Enjoy your work! 

Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Programs for Writing, Lamont Library, Room 210


Major Harvard Databases for Researching Topics on Student Health


Research projects often require you to look close up at a body of inquiry produced by credentialecamera with colored lensesd practitioners and scholars in a particular field.  

This research is typically collected, codified, and made findable in a tool called a subject database.

Sometimes, you'll use them to complement, supplement, augment your forays into HOLLIS.

Sometimes, however -- scholarly research can surface more quickly and efficiently, or is just more "visible" when you start with a subject database instead.  

Every academic discipline has at least one subject database that's considered the disciplinary gold standard -- a reliable, (relatively) comprehensive, and accurate record of the books that scholars are publishing, and the ideas they're debating and discussing in important and influential journals. 

Databases are like lenses: they change what you see and how you see it -- and they offer you easy and efficient ways to bring your questions into sharper focus.

5 Good Options for Essay 3:

PubMed [produced by the National Library of Medicine, part of the NIH, PubMed is the key database for biomedical literature, including the life, behavioral, and health sciences. ]

PsycInfo [produced by the American Psychological Society; good for most topics under discussion for Essay 3]

Education Source [currently considered the largest and most complete collection of education related research; covers all levels and all dimensions, including specialty topics, like student health] 

Social Science Premium Collection [interdisciplinary; topics related to sports, social norms, social institutions will find coverage here.]

Academic Search Premier  [multidisciplinary mix of scholarly articles, magazine and news publications]






If you're numbers-driven or visually-oriented, another way to happen upon a topic is to see it represented in graphs or tables and then ask questions about what the numbers might mean. Statista is one database in which you'll find data "dossiers" on a host of broad subjects, including College Student Health in the U.S.

Data sources are documented (which means you can always go from the report to the web presence of the organization or association to look for additional published reports, research, or links). 

Statista also helps you create good citations for the data you use.  Look under "SHARE" when you have a graph or table open and then select the style you're using (APA, Chicago, MLA).

Harvard Library Research Guides

You can browse across disciplines, or with the Statistics and Data group or more specifically at the Health Data Resources: United States library guide.  

Diane Sredl is our Data Librarian.  Send her your questions at this address:



Organizations Tracking Student Health

icon of the American College Health Association

American College Health Association: College Health Topics 

Brief, handy alphabetical list from the organization that, since its establishment in 1920, has served as the voice for student health and wellness, through advocacy, research and education,  Each topic page contains association projects, programs, publications, guidelines, and often, links to related external resources. 

Medline Plus (NIH): College Health

Themed page that draws together some resources from across the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, and related government agencies. 

icon for National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismCollege Drinking Prevention (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)

Among other things, this subsite within the larger NIAAA portal provides factsheets, reports, and presentations; and identifies recently published research


Penn State Center for Collegiate Mental Health: Annual Reports of the CCMH (September 2009-June 2018)

The mission of CCMH is to create a standardized database of college mental health data from participating college and university counseling/mental health centers.  Data was gathered from the counseling centers of 147 colleges and universities.  

The 2019 Report includes important highlights on what’s happening in college student mental health including an discussion of how treatment helps students, 8-year mental health trends, the most common mental health concerns for students, reasons why students terminate treatment, and much more.


Tools for Managing Research


One simple change can turn Google Scholar into what's effectively a Harvard database -- with links to the full-text of articles that the library can provide. Here's what to do:  Look to the left of the GS screen and click on the "hamburger" (); then click on .  Look for "Library Links."  Then type Harvard University into the search box and save your choice.  As long as you allow cookies, the settings will keep.  

Lean Library: a browser plugin that (nearly always) identifies digital availability of items at Harvard and runs automatically as you search books and articles.  


 Zoteroa free, open source citation management tool will take the process of collecting and organizing citations, incorporating them into your paper, and creating a bibliography or works cited page to the next level. 

It's worth the small investment of time to learn Zotero.  A good guide, produced by Harvard librarians, is available here: