As everyone (in MATH 499A) knows, last week we were instructed on how to search for articles relating to math, and eventually our specific capstone topic. While helpful, my time in the library proved to be more frustrating than fruitful. That, however, was mostly my fault. Let me try to explain.

I am also an Economics major. The ECON department has a 4-credit Capstone course that takes place in one semester. This makes for a bit of an accelerated pace relative to the MATH Capstone. Therefore, I have already chosen a topic, which is: Efficacy of the influenza vaccination against flu-related death in adults in the United States using time-series data. For the purpose of the MATH Capstone, with guidance from Prof. Munson and the use of some (hopefully advanced) statistics, I will try to determine how effective the flu vaccine is against flu-related death. Already knowing my topic is what caused my frustration in the library.

While in the library, my search terms were far too specific. Already having my topic narrowed down has made searching for articles difficult. While there are copious articles out there similar to what I am trying to do, there is nothing exactly like what I want to do (I suppose this is good, in a way, because it means my work will be somewhat original). Given the specificity of my topic, I had to learn to broaden my search horizons. For instance, instead of searching specifically for the effectiveness of the influenza vaccination, I simply searched for vaccination. From there I added a search term, like efficacy or effectiveness. In doing such, I have been able to find numerous articles that I am interested in. One, for example, is titled Estimation of Vaccine Efficacy and the Vaccination Threshold. This article discusses the how to measure vaccine efficacy, and points out that the number of people who would have to be vaccinated to avoid an epidemic varies with vaccine efficacy and virus reproduction.

Unfortunately, many of the articles I have found, PLU does not have direct access to. Thank goodness for Interlibrary Loan.