Databases allow you to do different kinds of searches.
Basic keyword search: similar to a library catalogue or Google search where you use whatever keywords you think describe your topic.
Subject heading search: use the thesaurus terms (also known as controlled vocabulary) of the database to find all articles tagged with specifically assigned subject headings.
Combined keyword & subject heading search: for advanced research, use combined searching to ensure retrieval of current and relevant resources to support your research. Start with your own basic keywords as concepts but also find out what the thesaurus term in the database is for that concept and combine them.
Using both Keyword & Thesaurus terms in a database search will help you in the following ways.
Subject Search Tutorials
|Medline Complete & Cinahl||MeSH / Cinahl Headings||
Once you have formulated your question, isolated your concepts & decided on your keywords &/or thesaurus terms, combining terms is the next step:
How to combine terms for best results: use boolean operators AND, OR, NOT
When you use keywords to augment your search strategy, databases have advanced tricks to save you time & help you include as many related terms as possible.Always check database help for symbols used.
Truncation for Keyword Searching is a search technique where possible word endings are replaced by a symbol. The database will search for all possible variations of the word.
Frequently used truncation symbols include the asterisk (*), a question mark (?) or a dollar sign ($)
Wildcards for Keyword Searching: In addition to truncation, in some databases wildcards can be used in keyword searches. The wildcard is represented by a question mark ? or a hash tag # placed in the middle of a word to account for possible different spellings of the same word.
Use the ? wildcard to replace an unknown character in your term so that your search returns all alternate spellings for that word.
Add the # wildcard in your search term where an alternate spelling may contain an extra character. This search finds all citations of the word that appear with or without the extra character.