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Find keywords and synonyms

1. Write your research question, and then select only the main keywords (in bold in the example): 

Is there an association between bone density and corticosteroids?

2. Think of synonyms for your keywords

  • Bone density = BMD, bone loss, osteoporosis
  • Corticosteroids= Aristopak, corticoid, cortison, steroid

Use the wildcards

Quotation Marks " "

  • They help to keep words in phrases together
  • Use the quotation marks around a concept. For example: "tumor marker"

Asterisks *

  • The asterisks at the end of a word replace any applicable letters
  • For example, therap* will search for therapy, therapies, therapeutic etc.

Combine the keywords

  • Discovery and the databases use Boolean operators 
  • Use AND, OR, NOT to connect your keywords together
  • Always write the Boolean operators in capital letters to make sure the database recognizes them
  • Narrows your search by combining the terms
  • You will get fewer results: the information must contain both words
  • Narrows your search by excluding the terms
  • You will get fewer results: the information must exclude one term
  • Broadens your search by finding one keyword
  • You will get the most results: the information can contain either or both words

A more complex search is NESTING.

With nesting, you search groups of terms by using the Boolean and parenthesis

Ex.: (teenagers OR minors) AND (drinking OR alcohol)

will retrieve: teenagers and drinking, teenagers and alcohol, minors and drinking, minors and alcohol