The key to being a savvy searcher is to use common techniques that can be applied to almost any database:
Use AND to search for different concepts. This tells the database to retrieve ALL of your search terms and will narrow your results.
e.g. lung AND cancer
Use OR to search for similar concepts. This tells the database to retrieve ANY of your search terms and will broaden your results.
e.g. lung OR pulmonary
Use parenthesis to organize your search when you want to combine more than one concept. Put parentheses around similar concepts using OR, then connect them using AND.
e.g. (lung OR pulmonary) AND (cancer OR neoplasms)
Truncation broadens your search to include various word endings and spellings. Truncation symbols may vary by database. If in doubt, check the search tips or help feature. Common symbols include: *, !, ?, or #
e.g. genetic* = genetic, genetics, genetically
Similar to truncation, wildcards substitute a symbol for one letter of a word. This is useful for words spelled in different ways.
e.g. p?ediatric = paediatric, pediatric
Most databases allow you to specify that words be searched as a phrase. Using quotes around search words is a common way to do phrase searching.
e.g. "borderline personality disorder"
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