A keyword search is similar to "Google-like" searching where the database will retrieve results based on the terms you enter
Does not take into consideration the context of those terms
Typically retrieves several results, although many may not be relevant to the topic
Keyword searching is very flexible and is a good way to begin a search, especially if you are unsure of the correct terminology to use. As you begin reading through your results, you may notice trends and patterns in terminology (including subject headings/controlled vocabulary) that you can then apply and adapt to your search strategy.
(also known as "controlled vocabulary")
A targeted, specific way to search using a database's built-in controlled vocabulary
Various databases have their own subject headings - i.e. CINAHL Headings in CINAHL and the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in MEDLINE/PubMed.
Controlled vocabulary subject headings function like a thesaurus and will take into consideration synonyms, abbreviations, and variations in spelling
Typically retrieves fewer results than keyword searching, yet results are oftentimes more relevant
Boolean operators provide a logical way to combine keyword or subject heading terms using AND, OR, or NOT
AND will narrow your search by combining one of more terms together
OR will broaden your search by retrieving results on any of the terms you enter
NOT will exclude designated terms from your results
Use of an asterisk * after the root of a word will search for various word endings
nurs* will find nurse, nurses, nursing
anesth* will find anesthesiology, anesthetist, anesthesiologist
Use of quotes will tell the database to retrieve results with that exact phrase
"Algase Wandering Scale"
"mindfulness-based stress reduction"
Use of parentheses will group desired search terms together in combination with appropriate Boolean operators
(dementia OR "Alzheimer* disease") AND ("fall prevention" OR "fall risk assessment")
This search will find results on dementia AND either "fall prevention OR "fall risk assesment"
It will also find results on "Alzheimer* disease" AND either "fall prevention OR "fall risk assesment"
After conducting a search in a database, you can filter, refine and narrow your search results by applying limiters or filters.
Options for narrowing your results are often located along the left side of your database search results page. Select appropriate limiters/filters that are relevant to your topic or your information need.
Common options include publication date, type of article, age group, gender, etc.
Boolean logic was developed by English mathematician and philosopher George Boole (1815 - 1864) to describe relationships between concepts.
The Boolean operators AND, OR, or NOT can be used in a database search to logically arrange your search terms together.
Below are examples of how you can use Boolean operators to make your search for information more effective, efficient, and accurate.
|Boolean Operator||Why It's Used||Example||What You'll Find|
|OR||To search for similar concepts||geriatric OR elderly||
Results will include either the word geriatric OR elderly.
This broadens the search.
To relate two different concepts together
|stroke AND caregiving||
Results will include both words stroke AND caregiving.
This narrows the search.
|NOT||To exclude results from a search||dementia NOT Alzheimer's||
Results will include the word dementia and exclude any results with the word Alzheimer's.
This narrows the search.
(Use NOT sparingly and judiciously as it may exclude some potentially relevant results)