Seek and ye shall find.

BLOG POST FOR:

  • Any student completing coursework essays
  • Students completing research dissertations

Anybody completing more professional research, in depth studies, systematic reviews should seek the help of library services to develop their search strategy. The resources on this page are the types of things I’d teach to new students when tackling an essay for the first time at university, just to give a leg up from looking for stuff on Google.

AIM:
By watching these tutorials you should be able to:

  • Understand what a search strategy is
  • Compile lists of search keywords
  • Conduct searches using Boolean terms
  • Use PUBMED for conducting your searches

Introducing the search strategy
(Go to >> http://www.screenr.com/b6Zs)

Conducting the search
(Go to >>http://www.screenr.com/w6Zs)

Note – this search looked within “all fields” which is useful to do when researching new or small scale areas. This looks at the title, MeSH term, abstract and full paper for those matching keywords.

Conducting the search using the MeSH terms
(Go to >>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dncRQ1cobdc&feature=relmfu)

This video from NCBI (the PUBMED people) shows how to specifically use the MeSH terms. These are “medical subject headings” and when author’s submit papers to journals, they will provide a list of keywords. As noted in the video above, this introduces some variability.┬áThe PUBMED cataloguers will look at every publication and the author keywords, and allocate the paper to the medical subject heading or subheading. You will see how exhaustive these lists are by looking at the MeSH page. Using the MeSH as the search field will be a more precise way of searching and essential for large scale subject areas. If you are not finding many results, I’d switch to “all fields”.

NOTES:
Boolean terms used for searching include these below and also a far more exhaustive list as you become more competent.

OR or +
AND
NOT

Web of Knowledge will search PUBMED and a number of other databases (WEB OF SCIENCE, BIOSIS, JOURNAL CITATION REPORTS). The use of keywords and Boolean terms applies in exactly the same way.