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What's in this guide

1. Finding and using medical information

2. Finding scholarly articles

3. Citing in Vancouver style

How much time should I take?

Manage your time using Assignment Tracker.


Google is not useful for this assignment. If you search for the disease, you won't necessarily find quality medical research.

What is plagiarism?

(From Ashley Kate Branch's Pinterest

Plagiarism is "presenting borrowed ideas or wording as if they were your own" (University of Calgary Student Success Centre, 2012). Whether the act of plagiarism is intentional or accidental, the consequences are very serious.

Ways to avoid plagiarism:

  • Cite your sources both within the text of your paper as well as in a reference list at the end.
  • Hand in original assignments for each class. 
  • When taking notes from a source, re-write the ideas in your own words (avoid cut-and-paste) -- unless you plan on using it as a quote.
  • When citing someone else's exact words, use quotation marks AND cite the source. Quote sparingly.
  • Paraphrase properly: make sure you understand the gist, look away, and rewrite in your own words. Think about how this idea fits into the larger scheme of your paper. You still need to cite even though you're not using the author's exact words.

Your term paper assignment

Your term paper should examine the origin and distribution of one disease or condition in one particular ethnic, social, or regional population.

You need to address the five questions in your assignment outline.

To do this, you'll need to gather information from a variety of sources, both medical and anthropological, and bring together the information in a clear and consise way.

1. Read your assignment

Your professor has outlined the expectations for your term paper. Make sure to note down specific requirements and the due date.

Enter this information into Assignment Tracker.

2. Gather background information

Check out the Background Sources part of this guide.

Places to look for medical information:

Books for medical anthropology information:

3. Finding articles using the library search

Searching the name of a disease or condition will return too many results! Make your search more specific.

Try searching for the disease/condition + part of the five questions, e.g. malaria diagnosis"


Try searching for the disease/condition + population/region, e.g. "malaria thailand"

Use the subject terms to help you figure out which words to use.

4. Finding articles using databases

Recommended databases:

*Keep in mind that the goals/objectives of their research may not be the same as yours. You'll need to apply their findings to your context (medical anthropology).

Use subject terms to be more precise with your search.

Different databases require different search strategies.

5. Write, edit, cite

Take a look at some resources under Writing & Citing > Research Paper

The Student Success Centre has great online resources for structuring and organizing, grammar, and editing.

Need help with Vancouver style? Check out:

Find NLM abbreviations for journals by using the NLM catalog search (

Type in the full title of the journal you want to look up. On the search results page, look for the NLM Title Abbreviation line:

Term paper = conversation

Finding keywords

  • Name(s) of the disease/condition
  • Population you're examining
  • Key parts of the five questions
  • Variations/synonyms of the above

Connecting keywords

AND - connect different ideas
e.g. Tribalism AND Africa

OR - connect synonyms or like terms
e.g. Chagas disease OR American trypanosomiasis

NOT - use sparingly!
e.g. America NOT north

In Anthropology Plus and SocINDEX, use wildcard * to get variations.
e.g. Tribal* will return tribal, tribalism and tribalist

Is it relevant?

Read the abstract.

Look at the subject terms (these indicate the main focus of the article).

Citation chaining

Once you find one good article, look in the bibliography or works cited list at the end to find more.

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