Use these tips to search in library databases like PubMed and Scopus and in Google Scholar.
Controlled Vocabulary: (PUBMED and Medline) Use Controlled Terms, Descriptiors, Subject Headings and/or Identifiers to look for all items on the same topic. These are terms selected by an indexer so that all articles on a topic will come up even if the author used a different word to describe it. Search the Thesaurus (when available) to find terms that are broader, more specific or related.
When there is no Thesaurus available: search by title for an article you are already aware of, or do a broad search for your subject to find an article about what you're interested in, open the record to see what terms the article is indexed under. They may be listed as subjects, keywords, or both. Use these terms to narrow your search. In some databases these terms may be clickable allowing you to see all articles indexed with a specific term.
+ or AND: Use + or AND between search terms to retrieve ALL of the words in each record. Many databases default to an AND search if you simply type words in to a search.
OR: Use OR to search synonyms or alternate words on the same topic. Or is used to expand the number of records retrieved in a search. When searching with OR the terms must be put in one search box together or grouped with parenthesis e.g. (Pets OR Cats OR Dogs)
- or Not: Use - or NOT between search terms to exclude ALL of the instances of the word following - or NOT from your search. (Use this only when absolutely necessary; it is easy to exclude useful results along with the unwanted using this technique.)
"Phrase Searching": putting quotes around a phrase tells the computer to look for the exact words next to each other in that order.
Truncation (*): Use the truncation/wildcard symbol to search different forms of a word. For example, engin* will retrieve Engineer, Engine, Engineered, Engineering, etc.