AND - OR - NOT
Putting the Search Together
Use AND to join the different ideas in your topic together and get articles that talk about both topics:
stroke AND rehabilitation
Use OR to join synonyms or word variations together to get all of the articles that use any of those words:
rehabilitation OR recovery of function
AND - OR Together
When you want to search using both AND and OR, put parentheses around the OR statement:
stroke AND (rehabilitation OR recovery of function)
Keywords and Subject Headings
When you search with keywords, you are trying to find words that authors have used in their titles and abstracts or somehow otherwise appear in the article's entry in a database. Therefore you need to brainstorm all of the possible ways authors could refer to your concept:
"endurance" OR "physical fitness"
"education" OR "training" OR "school" OR "learning"
You can also search using subject headings. Subject headings are keywords assigned by the databases to describe the concepts in an article and to try to take some of the guesswork out of the job of coming up with keywords. Try searching with subject headings and see how your results differ from searching with just keywords.
Still unsure about subject headings? Watch this video for another explanation as well as tips on how to find them.
Interested in text tutorials? Click the PDF links below:
Asking an answerable clinical question...and making your database searching much easier in the process.
Use PICO(T) template below to craft your question. Then use PICO(T) Method for Asking Good Clinical Question to help develop your own topic.
Modifying an Unsuccessful Search
If you aren't happy with the list of articles your search brings back, here are some ways you might think about changing your search.
1. Too many articles / Articles aren't on topic
2. Too few articles
Photo by Anant Nath Sharma, used with permission under a Creative Commons license