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Nursing 301: Professional Nurse I: Search Tips

Library of the Health Sciences

General Search Tips

Finding articles should be the easiest part of your assignment.  One strategy that can make your research run more smoothly is the use of subject headings, like MeSH.  Subject headings are what we call "controlled vocabulary."  In other words, they are terminology that are used to identify all the articles on a given topic.  For example, you could do one search for articles with the subject heading "Carbonated Beverages," instead of searching for all variations of the word "pop" (i.e. "soda," "coke," "soft drink").

When choosing your subject headings, remember this: "Search for Specificity."  Searching by broad, general concepts will retrieve many results, but you'll have to wade through lots of irrelevant articles.  Therefore it's generally advisable to start your database searches with "narrower" (i.e. more specific) terminology to retrieve fewer, but more relevant, results.  You can always expand your search later if you don't find what you need.  For example, a search for "Gastronintestinal Diseases" will retrieve over 600,000 citations, but a search for "Stomach Ulcer" will retrieve less than 23,000.  You should then add a second term to narrow your search even further.

Feel free to contact myself or the library reference desk if you would like help finding subject headings for your research topic.  After all, that's why we're here!  See the contact information to the right.

Have you ever wondered why librarians and professors discourage you from using Google for your assignments?  I certainly did when I was a student.  Well, scroll down to watch a video that explains why.

Video Tutorials