Use OR between words that mean the same thing.
E.g. adolescent OR teenager
This search will find results with either (or both) of the search words.
Use AND between words which represent the main ideas in the question.
E.g. adolescent AND “physical activity”
This will find results with both of the search words.
Use NOT to exclude words that you don’t want in your search results.
E.g. (adolescent OR teenager) NOT “young adult”
The asterisk symbol * will help you search for different word endings.
E.g. teen* will find results with the words: teen, teens, teenager, teenagers
Specific truncation symbols will vary. Check the 'Help' section of the database you are searching.
Phrase searching “...........”
Double quotation marks help you search for common phrases and make your results more relevant.
E.g. “physical activity” will find results with the words physical activity together as a phrase.
Wildcard symbols allow you to search for spelling variations within the same or related terms.
E.g. wom?n will find results with women OR woman
Specific wild card symbols will vary. Check the 'Help' section of the database you are searching.
Proximity searching allows you to specify where your search terms will appear in relation to each other.
E.g. pain w/10 morphine will search for pain within ten words of morphine
Specific proximity symbols will vary. Check the 'Help' section of the database you are searching.
All library databases are different and you can't always search and refine in the same way. Try to be consistent when transferring your search in the library databases you have chosen.
Searching for information is a process and you won't always get it right the first time. Improve your results by changing your search and trying again until you're happy with what you have found.
Keeping track of searches saves time as you can rerun them, store references, and set up regular alerts for new research relevant to your topic.
Most library databases allow you to register with a personal account. Look for a 'log in', 'sign in' or 'register' button to get started.
There are free and subscription reference management programs available on the web or to download on your computer.