In Google you can type in, "What's the weather like in New York City this weekend?" and receive the answer. In library databases, you need to boil down your inquiry to the nouns and noun phrases that capture your concepts, like New York City AND weekend AND weather
For example, if your topic is, "what is the long-term effect of poor care on nursing home residents?", you would not type in that ENTIRE question into a library database such as CINAHL. Really, you want to type in only the 'meat' of your sandwich: nursing homes AND patient care AND elderly
Once you have the meat, you can then start to put together a search strategy as shown below. Consider using synonyms when searching. If you're researching pet therapy, you may want to search for dogs as well as canines; or you may want to go broader with your terms and use 'animal-assisted therapy' also. Make sure you get ALL the relevant possibilities for your research. The following pro tips will help you do this.
These three words (also known as 'Boolean operators') -- AND, OR, NOT -- perform a special function in library databases when used in a search statement and will help you either broaden your search results or narrow the results, depending on what you need. This graphic shows how they work:
Using the Boolean operators AND and OR from the previous nursing example, my search might look something like this:
Nursing Home AND (Patient Care OR Long-term Care) AND (Elderly OR Aged OR Geriatric):
Another way to make your search results more relevant is to apply database filters on the results page. For example, the CINAHL database (in EBSCOhost) has filters for age, inpatient or outpatient, male or female, and so on, that can be applied to your results. These filters are viewable in the EBSCO databases by clicking on the link to Show More, under the date slider bar:
You'll usually select Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals and English Language:
You can use limiters to replace some search terms. For example, rather than type in all the search terms for Elderly, you can apply the Age Groups limiter to your search results:
You can always see what terms you've used and what limiters have been applied under Current Search. And you can always remove them if you find them too restricing:
Searching for articles is not always easy, but there are tricks that will help you navigate and find more relevant materials to your needs.
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