Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Major Steps in a Search
- Create a well-defined question [PICO]
- Brainstorm and gather synonyms
- Construct the search strategy
- Select database(s)
- Tailor search strategy to database(s)
- Save search & export results to reference manager
Think broadly and abstractly!
- Terms with the same meaning
- Hypertension/High blood pressure
- Terms with alternate spellings
- Complex concepts described inconsistently
- Long-term, patient-reported satisfaction…/Patients’ experiences with…
- Umbrella terms and specific names
- Sexually transmitted disease/genital warts, syphilis
- Keywords and database-specific subject terms
Tailor Search Strategy to the Database
Understand different vendor interfaces
- EBSCO publishes CINAHL and PsycINFO
- Elsevier publishes Scopus
- Medline is part of PubMed
Differentiate between keywords and subject headings
- PubMed uses Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
- Scopus only uses keywords
- CINAHL uses subject headings
Know if the content is peer-reviewed
- Medline = all peer-reviewed
- CINAHL and PubMed include non-peer-reviewed material
Different databases, different subject headings
Construct Search Strategies
Construct search by combining concepts with Boolean operators. Use keywords and subject terms in combination.
Boolean Logic Operators:
||limits results, both concepts
||stoma AND bowel cancer
||more results, either concept
||stoma OR colostomy
||excludes concept(s) from results
||java NOT coffee
Visual Queue for Boolean Operators
What are Boolean Operators? - "AND", "OR" and "NOT" - they connect your search words together to either narrow or broaden your results in a database (like PubMed) or search engine (like Google Scholar)
Prefer video? Watch Boolean Operators by University of Essex Library
Image from https://www.quora.com/What-makes-Boolean-Algebra-different-than-Binary-Code
Grey Lit Searching
What is Grey Lit?
Grey literature is information produced outside of traditional publishing and distribution channels. It can include reports, policy literature, working papers, newsletters, government documents, speeches, white papers, urban plans, etc.
Organizations that produce grey literature include government departments and agencies, civil society or non-governmental organizations, academic centers, and private companies and consultants.
Open access system in Europe which contains grey literature bibliographical references produced in Europe.
- Includes technical or research reports, doctoral dissertations, some conference papers, some official publications, and other types of grey literature
- Covers science, technology, biomedical science, economics, social science and humanities
Bimonthly publication of The New York Academy of Medicine produced between 1999-2016 (discontinued January 2017)
- Contains grey literature publications in health services research and selected urban health topics
- Cataloged and indexed using MeSH