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NTR 232: Lifecycle Nutrition

Information Formats

Nutrition research is published and disseminated in a wide variety of formats. Below are just a few of the key formats:


Journal Articles

News Media

Grey Literature


Books/eBooks can be a great resource for background information to help you get an overview of a topic. This type of information useful:

  • If you are unfamiliar with the topic, it provides a good overview of the subject matter.
  • It helps you to identify important facts related to your topic: terminology, dates, events, history, and names or organizations.

The information in Books/eBooks are communicated differently depending on your needs: 

  • textbooks - give overview of topics; generally are more current then encyclopedias
  • dictionaries - give definitions of words or phrases
  • general & subject-specific encyclopedias - give an in-depth overview of a topic; in the health sciences they may be useful for the history of a topic, but not current information because they are update infrequently. 

Benedictine University Library. (n.d.) Finding Background Information. Retrieved from

How to Find & View eBooks in UAB Libraries Catalog

Type "nutrition" in the search box.

Journal Articles

Journal articles are useful when you have a specific research question and want to know current studies on the topic.  For example:  Does a mother's preconception nutrition effect her child's neurodevelopment? 

There are a variety of ways journal articles are classified. One of the most important distinctions is whether an article is scholarly or popular. For academic, professional, and scientific research for patient care, one will want to focus primarily on scholarly articles.

Most scholarly articles are also peer-reviewed (sometimes called refereed) articles, meaning that they have undergone a peer-review process prior to being published. This means that experts in the author's field of research have read and thoroughly evaluated the article and approved it for publication. Therefore, peer-reviewed articles are typically of higher quality than non-peer reviewed articles. For this reason, when looking for journal articles on a topic researchers, clinicians, and scholars focus primarily on peer-reviewed articles. Peer review journals are scholarly journals that publish peer-reviewed articles.

Source: Biomedical Sciences LibGuide, Quinnipiac University

Source: What are Scholarly and Peer Reviewed Articles?, William and Anita Newman Library, Baruch College, CUNY (City University of New York)

News Media

Unless you are in the habit of perusing the latest issues of research journals, news media may very well be where you first hear about a break-through research study. Journalists summarize health research findings for viewers and readers. However, while it's interesting and helpful to first learn about studies from news media, rather than relying on journalists' interpretation of the research and as critical consumers of research information, you will want to track down and consult the original research studies to make your own assessment of its findings.

Examples include:

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Grey Literature

Grey Literature is "that which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers." Some examples of grey literature include: census, economic and other data sources; conference proceedings and abstracts; informal communications (phone conversations, email, meetings, etc.); newsletters; preprints of journal articles; registered clinical trials; research reports (completed and uncompleted); technical reports; theses and dissertations; blog posts; and white papers.

Source: "What is Grey Literature?" The Fourth International Conference on Grey Literature in Washington, DC, 1999.

Who Produces Grey Literature?

Government departments Corporations and trade groups
Nonprofit organizations For-profit organizations
Independent research institutes Advocacy groups

Examples of Grey Literature

Implementing effective actions for improving ADOLESCENT NUTRITION

Nutrition During Pregnancy and Lactation: Exploring New Evidence: Proceedings of a Workshop 

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