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Biological resources for STEM: Search example

Biological resources for Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics

Librarian

Giovanna Badia's picture
Giovanna Badia
Contact:
Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, and Engineering
room 207 (main floor)
514-398-7340
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Search example

Principles of online searching

1.  Define your question.
Example:  Is the use of bone cement effective in total hip replacements for older patients, i.e., age 65 or older?
 

2.  Identify the appropriate source(s) to search.
Example:  Medline via PubMed
 

3.  Break down the question into its separate concepts.
Example:  Is the use of bone cement effective in total hip replacements for older patients, i.e., age 65 or older?
 

4.  Search each concept separately to find appropriate subject headings.  If subject headings are not available, brainstorm synonyms for each concept.
Example:  Search each concept separately in PubMed to find the appropriate medical subject headings (i.e., MeSH terms).  The MeSH terms are:

-       “Bone Cements” (for bone cement)

-       “Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip” (for total hip replacements)

-       “Aged”  (for older patients, i.e., age 65 or older)
 

5.  Combine search terms (AND/OR).
Example:  “Bone Cements” [MeSH] AND “Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip”[MeSH] AND “Aged”[MeSH]
 

6.  Apply limits.
Example:  Limit search results to English language articles published in the past 5 years.  Note that Medline & Embase also allow you to limit your results to studies involving participants in a certain age group, such as “Aged: 65+ years.”  You can search for age in these two databases using a subject heading (see step 4 above) or you can apply the age limit to your search results.
 

7. Evaluate your results & modify your search strategy if necessary.
Example:  Look at the title, abstract, and/or subject headings of a relevant result to pick out additional words or subject headings that you can use to revise your search.

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