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Nursing: Evidence-Informed Practice Search Module - Basic

Keywords - definition

Keyword (or textword, natural language, or free-text) searching is when we, for example, search for words which we expect to find in the title, abstract, or author-assigned keywords of relevant articles; it is how we typically interrogate web search engines like Google. Draw up a list of words or phrases related to each key concept in your research question. When using this technique, you will need to be aware of synonyms and spelling variations.

Example: Keywords (or textwords) for cancer can include cancer / cancers / cancerous / malignancies / malignancy / malignant / metastasis / metastases / metastatic / neoplasia / neoplasm / neoplasms / neoplastic / tumor / tumors / tumour / tumours etc.

  • Note that cancer is a very broad concept that refers to many specific types of cancer as well, such as astrocytomas / carcinoma / chordoma / craniopharyngioma / ependymoma / esthesioneuroblastoma /  glioma / leukemia / leukaemia / lymphoma / medulloblastoma / melanoma / mesothelioma / myeloma / myelodysplastic syndromes / osteosarcoma / retinoblastoma / rhabdomyosarcoma / sarcoma / thymoma etc.
  • When searching for articles about cancer, subject headings come in very handy for this reason, but they cannot be relied upon for thorough searching.

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