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Before starting your search, prepare the following:
- Refine your research question (view the Evidence Based Medicine tab for additional information)
- Identify which database you want to search
- Identify the major topics within your research question and make a list of key terms and synonyms for them
- Using the key terms you identified, create a search strategy using Boolean operators
- Identify limits/filters that you may want to apply (e.g. language, publication date, etc.)
Basics of Searching
- Capitalization does not matter.
- In most cases, keyword order does not matter. The exception to this is if you are creating a complex strategy that contains parentheses.
- You can use parentheses to build a search with a combination of Boolean Operators. The LibGuide from the Library at the University of Hawaii at Manoa provides a great explanation of using parentheses.
- Do not use conjunctions.
- Enclose keywords in quotation marks if you want them to be considered as a phrase.
- Use Boolean operators to create a relationship between your keywords
- AND - Tells the database to find a reference that contains all of the terms
- OR - Tells the database to find a reference that contains either of the terms
- NOT - Tells the database to find a reference that does not contain a particular term(s)
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