Before you begin searching, think about the words you need to use in your search. Spending five minutes on this at the start will save you having to re-run searches with words you've forgotten to use, and will give you a higher chance of finding relevant items.
It's also useful to keep a note of what you have searched if you are doing your research over a longer period of time - it can be frustrating running the same searches because you can't remember the terms you used previously.
This is our example topic written out as a sentence:
The dangers of vaping in teenagers
Translate your sentence into keywords. For the example above, the keywords might be:
As most databases will search for exactly what you type in, you need to think of all possible synonyms (different words with the same meaning) and variant spellings. If you don't do this you might miss out on key articles for your research.
The following example shows how our sentence has been broken down into keywords and grouped by concept.
|Concept 1||Concept 2||Concept 3|
You might find too many references on your topic, so think about ways you could limit your search. Most databases will allow you to limit your search in these ways:
Using an advanced search allows you to search for your keywords in a particular field. You can choose to look for your words in the article title, abstract, authors' names or publication title.
For help getting started, download a copy of our database searching plan.
Use our database search plan to get you thinking about keywords and limiters for your search.