On this page you'll find:
If you feel that you already have a good grasp of searching in a database, go ahead and skip down to Searching with Controlled Vocabulary. Especially useful for graduate students.
Database Commands (Boolean Operators)
Do not enter sentences or long phrases into databases. These confuse databases and you will not get accurate results
Most databases provide multiple text boxes. Enter one topic per box.
Ex. Find citations about stress and college students that do not pertain to alcohol consumption
PubMed requires parentheses. Enter one topic per parentheses.
Ex. (stress* OR anxiety OR cortisol OR epinephrine) AND (college* OR universit*) AND (student* OR undergraduate*) NOT (alcohol OR "drinking behavior")
Use these thinking tools to help organize your search. The tools here will help make your thinking visible.
As always, if you're having trouble getting started, or not sure how to use one of these tools to organize your search, contact me.
Too Many Search Results ?
Too Few Search Results ?
Adapted from DIY Library Project, Portland State University Library
Graduate Students: This is especially useful for you!
Once you have some experience searching using keywords, the next step is to use Controlled Vocabulary.
Have you ever looked and looked in database and just not been able to find the search words? This search strategy will help you to move from your concept to the specific terms that describe it!
Just like in the natural world - a cat might be called a "house cat," "domestic cat," "feline," or "little kitty love love," but to a biologist it's always Felis catus.
For example: you looked for research using the word "tattling." But if you didn't use the subject term "talebearing," you missed out on most of the research using the word "talebearing" (the word the database uses to best describe this concept).
A lot of databases include a guide to their controlled vocabulary. It might be called a "thesaurus," (like in the example here) or maybe "subject terms" or subject headings. Poke around a little bit, and if you're not sure, ask me for help.
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