Prepare, plan, do: a case study

Have another look at the case study. What did Matthew do to ensure that the information he found was authoritative? Are there other search tools he could have used?


Superbugs and their resistance to antibiotics

Matthew is going to give a presentation on superbugs and their resistance to antibiotics to his tutorial group.

He decides to start his research by checking what is available in the library. A search of the library catalogue using the keyword ‘superbug’ is disappointing with only one book found. Then he remembers the librarian talking about using different keywords when searching, so he jots down some alternative search terms to use including ‘MRSA’. When Matthew searches for ‘MRSA’ in the library catalogue he finds 2 promising books – MRSA in practice and MRSA : current perspectives – that look like they will cover the basics. These will be useful but the information in books can be out of date in comparison to current research and Matthew really needs some up-to-date information. Perhaps he should try searching the internet?

A Google search for ‘superbug MRSA’ retrieves tens of thousands of results. He is not sure which ones he should use but he did find a useful document by the Department of Health which he knows he can trust.

He remembers his librarian mentioned Intute – a website that contains links to internet resources that have been objectively evaluated. Typing in ‘superbug’ finds nothing but typing in ‘MRSA’ finds 29 websites which he knows will be from reliable sources. Among them he finds 2 Department of Health documents – so he knows his decision to use the Department of Health was correct. He also finds a useful website from the Association of Medical Microbiologists.

Matthew is pleased with what he has found so far but he knows he needs some scholarly information. He needs to draw on current research to demonstrate to his tutorial group that he is aware of the academic literature on the topic. His librarian suggests searching Web of Knowledge which is a database platform that allows him to search the Web of Science database and other databases in one search. The librarian also suggests searching PubMed a database that covers the biomedical subjects.

Matthew decides initially to search on Web of Knowledge, he finds many useful results including some journal articles and a conference proceeding. Journals are good – Matthew’s tutor said that students should use this type of material in their research, so he’s pleased he’s found these. Some of the journal articles are available online as well, such as some published in a journal called Nature that is available online, so Matthew can read them at home rather than stay in the library all day.

Matthew remembers reading articles in newspapers about MRSA and superbugs – maybe they would be useful to give him insight into how society views it. He asks his librarian if there is a way of viewing newspaper articles – without having to search each webpage of each newspaper. His librarian suggests he tries a database called Factiva which not only collates journal articles but also newspaper articles and press releases.

By searching Factiva, Matthew found some useful newspaper articles from The Sunday Times and a press release. They were available to read online and Matthew also had the option of being able to email the articles he was interested in to himself.

The references Matthew used:

Association of Medical Microbiologists. (1995) The facts about… MRSA. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 21st August 2000].

Cannon, G. (1995) Superbug: nature’s revenge: why antibiotics can breed disease. London, Virgin.

Department of Health. (no date) A simple guide to MRSA. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 21st August 2009].

Department of Health. (2005) MRSA surveillance system: results. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 21st August 2009].

Fluit, A. C. & Schmitz, F.J. (2003) MRSA: current perspectives. Wymondham, Caister Academic.

Giles, J. (2004) Superbug genome excels at passing on drug resistance. Nature. [Online] 430 ( 6996) , 126-126. Available from: [Accessed 21st August 2009].

Goldstein, F. W. (2007) Combating resistance in a challenging, changing environment. In: 16th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID 2006) April 1-4, 2006. Oxford, Blackwell Scientific. pp. 2-6.

Gordon, Tom. (Sunday 15th July 2007) Cleaning ‘is not answer to rid wards of bugs’. The Sunday Times. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 21st August 2009].

Gould, I. M. (2007) MRSA in practice. London, Royal Society of Medicine Press.

Griggs, Carly. ( Friday 24th August 2007 ) Superbug figures on the rise. Newsquest Media Group Newspapers. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 21st August 2009].

MacKenzie, F.M., Bruce, J., Struelens, M.J., Goossens, H., Mollison, J. & Gould, I.M. (2007) Antimicrobial drug use and infection control practices associated with the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in European hospitals. Clinical Microbiology and Infection. [Online] 13(3), 269–276. Available from: [Accessed 21st August 2009].


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