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SOM Literature Searching: Getting Started


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)

Contact Us

Debra Rand, MS, AHIP
Associate Dean for Library Services
T: 516-463-7537

Wendy Herman, MLIS, AHIP
Head of Education and Access Services
T: 516-463-7594

Hofstra University

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