Answered By: Christine Andresen
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2014     Views: 17

Keyword Searching: Tips and Tricks

(see attached file)

   Use Synonyms

· Keyword searching will only retrieve articles that use the exact word you put in the search box

· Think of alternative words to describe what you are searching for

o   Example 1: nursing homes OR assisted living facilities

o   Example 2: high blood pressure OR hypertension OR hbp



· Truncation uses symbols (or wildcards) to replace letters in words

· Truncation is used to get more results than you would with the one word alone

· Different databases and search engines use different symbols

o   The most common truncation symbol is * (the asterisk symbol)

o   But you may also find search engines that use the symbols: ? (question mark) or # (pound sign)

· For example:

o  Diagnos* will retrieve articles that use keywords like diagnosis, diagnosing, diagnostic, diagnostics, etc

o  Cell* will retrieve articles that use keywords like cellular, cellphone, cellulite, cells, cellist, cells, cellophane, cellulose, etc



· Try using British spelling alternatives, for example:

o   Pediatrics or Paediatrics

o   Analyze or Analyse

· For more British spelling alternatives visit:

   Use Fields

· Many databases allow you to search in different fields (such as the abstract, or article title, etc)

· One way to limit results to more relevant articles are to look for keywords in the article abstract or article title fields.

· There are several different ways to do this depending on which database you are using, here are two examples:

o   EBM Reviews – diagnos* .ab, .ti

o   PsycINFO – Next to the search box, change the Select a Field (optional) drop down menu to search in any of the specified fields listed in that menu (see screenshot on page 2 of the attached file)


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