Research or scholarly articles generally have several characteristics that define them. They:
The most prestigous research articles are "peer-reviewed", meaning they are edited by an expert panel.
BEFORE you jump into a database, critically think about your topic and follow these steps:
1) Identify the key concepts. The databases do not like phrases (ex. how does physical therapy improve shoulder conditions). Use only the key concepts terms as physical therapy, shoulder.
2) Develop synonyms for your terms.The term shoulder may not be used to represent that concept in every article. Maybe the term clavicle is used? Or rotator cuff? Adding these with "or" in between will help you find more items. For example --> shoulder OR clavicle OR "rotator cuff"*
3) Combine your terms well, using Boolean logic operators (a fancy way of saying and, or, and not). For example, "Physical therapy" AND (shoulder OR clavicle OR "rotator cuff". * A short video on Boolean logic is linked in the box below.
* Quotation marks force phrase searching
Additional Search tips
Selected searches by subject:
Other key words:
Subject vs. Keyword Searching
Two common ways of searching for a topic are a Subject search and a Keyword search. Many databases, including library catalogs and article research databases, will allow you to choose one of these methods of searching. This chart will help you to determine what each method can do.
Subject Searching is covered in this guide's PubMed (biomedical literature) and CINAHL (nursing and allied health literature)
|Words found in titles, abstracts and subjects||Based on an official list of terms, only searches in Subject field.|
|Terms taken from actual document||Terms assigned by an indexer|
|More items usually found, but tend to be less relevant||Fewer items usually found, but tend to be more relevant|
|Have to think of multiple ways of describing the same topic (combine keywords with OR)||There is only one 'right' way to describe the topic.|
|All variants can be used (-s, -al, -ing, etc), or use a wildcard such as '*' to find multiple word endings.||Variations of words limited|
|Can combine words from multiple topics||Cannot easily combine more than one topic.|