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HSLS for SHRS: Search Basics

Why do I need background information?

Background information can provide:

  • Broad overview of the subject
  • Definitions of the topic
  • Introduction to key issues
  • Names of people who are authorities in the subject field
  • Keywords and subject-specific vocabulary terms that can be used for database searches
  • Bibliographies that lead to additional resources

Search Basics

Before you begin searching for background information, it is a good idea to identify the main concepts of your topic and write down all the keywords and phrases that describe your topic. 

Using a combination of the concepts and synonyms you have identifed you will now complete searches in four different resources. Do NOT type a complete sentence into the search box; use the identified keywords and leave out words such as outcomes, comparison, etc..

Finding Synonyms

Including synonyms, related terms (including generic and trade names of drugs), and abbreviations in a search will change the results/citations retrieved; sometimes broadening it, sometimes narrowing it.

You can locate synonyms and related terms by looking at known articles and their reference lists, asking your mentor, and/or completing preliminary searches.

Boolean Operators

Combine keywords and phrases using Boolean Operators.

Boolean Operators

Combine different concepts with AND to retrieve articles that mention both of your keywords.

Combine related concepts or synonyms with OR.

Use NOT to exclude keywords from your search results.

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