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KIN 494: Motivational Theory in Exercise & Health: Find Articles: Research Databases & Searching Strategies

Also for KIN 450: Biopsychosocial Perspectives on Physical Activity and Health - Uses a biopsychosocial perspective to examine the interrelationships on physical activity and health (physical and mental).

Research Databases

PubMed: The primary database of information in the medical and health sciences fields.  Open access searching interface for 'Medline.'  Includes references from several hundred nursing journals.

CINAHL: Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature. Leading research from publications in the fields of nursing and allied health from 1982 to the present.

PsycINFO: Provides access to international literature in psychology and related disciplines. All records from 1967 to the present are indexed using the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms.

ERIC (via CSA Ilumina): Premier U.S. database of education literature. Sponsored by the US Department of Education. Includes journal (EJ) and ERIC Document (ED) citations with abstracts; full text of ERIC Documents from 1993 to present.

 

Why Use Research Databases?

Research Databases tutorial (4:23) - What are research databases and why should you use them?  What advantages do they have over general web search engines like Google?

Keyword Searching tutorial (2:09) 

Using Connectors When Searching Research Databases tutorial (5:21)

Search Strategies - Examples with PubMed

Below are four major search strategies that you can use to systematically search across multiple databases, although the example below is from a PubMed search.  Doing so will ensure with reasonable certainty that you do not miss important, relevant research on your topic.  The example PICO (Research) question was chosen to illustrate the effectiveness and strengths of each search strategy since examples relevant to this topic are retrieved using each strategy in PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane, and PsycInfo.

*Examples below refer to searching in PubMed, but the same methods can be used in other databases

**If using CINAHL for a Keyword Search, un-check the 'Suggest Subject Headings' box above the search boxes - then type in your Keywords and search

4 Search Strategies

Start with your topic statement, or with a Research or PICO Question

The examples below start with this research question or 'PICO question' (P=Problem/Popluation, I=Intervention/proposed solution, C=Comparison (optional alternate intervention or solution), O=desired Outcome):

PICO Research Question example: In elderly with a high risk of falling (P), is tai chi (I) effective in preventing or reducing falls (O)?

2 Broad Strategies  - Keyword and Keyword with Synonyms

  • Get a Snap Shot of a Research Database: how much and what type of material does it have on your topic?
  • Broaden your initial search with synonym groups to get more results

2 Targeted Strategies - Keyword in Title and Subject Heading

  • Focus in on the most relevant results for your topic and use these to discover database Subject Heading tags that can match you to articles that have major coverage of a topic - regardless of the phrasing or keyword terms used by each individual author
  • Use Subject Headings tags to discover articles that have major coverage of a topic - regardless of the phrasing or keyword terms used by each individual author in their title or abstract

 

2 Broad Strategies

Keyword

  • Pull out the major concepts from your topic or research question and connect them with AND
  • Example: falls AND tai chi

 

Keyword with Synonyms

  • *Use the Advanced Search option in a research database - so you'll have rows and boxes to structure your search
  • In PubMed:
    • Click on the Advanced link under the search box on the PubMed home page or result page
    • In Advanced Search, use one row for each concept group of synonyms; ex: 1 row for the P concept: falls OR falling OR balance
    • 1st row: falls OR falling OR balance
    • AND 2nd row: tai chi OR tai ji
    • With some research databases, you may need to use () around more than one synonym with 'OR' between them to the database that you want any word within each group, and you want at least 1 word from each group.  
      • If you did this, it would look like: (falls OR falling OR balance) AND (tai chi OR tai ji)

2 Targeted Strategies

Keyword in Title

  • Article Titles often contain the main ideas of an article's content - so finding results with your keywords in the article title will often increase the relevance of results for your topic
    • *One Disadvantage is that searching for keywords in the title will *not* find all things that will be useful, but it's a good way to focus in and discover some excellent results that can help you further define your topic and give you ideas for more specific keywords or Subject Headings tags that you can use in other ways to get more results that are still more relevant.
  • *Use the Advanced Search option in a research database - so you'll have rows and boxes to structure your search,
  • Advanced Search *may* also give you drop down menu options to search specific parts of database records, like the article Title, or the Abstract  - Depending on the database
  • In PubMed:
    • Go to the Advanced Search (see above for a screen shot of the link to Advanced Search under the PubMed search box)
    • Type your search in the 1st and 2nd row using the code [title] after each keyword:
      •  1st Row: falls[title] OR falling[title] OR balance[title]
      • AND 2nd Row: tai chi[title] OR tai ji[title]
  • Other databases' Advanced Search mode
    • You may be able to use the dropdown to the left or right of a search box to choose the field you search, such as 'TITLE' or 'ARTICLE TITLE' or 'ABSTRACT' instead of the default which is often 'ALL Fields' or 'Select a Field,' etc.
    • Use separate rows if you like to help you structure the search (you may or may not need to use () if you use separate rows):
      • 1st row - TITLE: falls or falling or balance
      • AND 2nd row - TITLE: tai chi or tai ji
    • With some research databases, you may need to use () around more than one synonym with 'OR' between them to the database that you want any word within each group, and you want at least 1 word from each group.  
      • If you did this, it would look like: 1st row - TITLE: (falls OR falling OR balance) AND 2nd row - TITLE (tai chi OR tai ji)
  • *Identify Subject Headings for a Subject Headings search!
    • Results from a Keyword in Title search are often a great place to look for ideas of Subject Headings to use
    • Subject Headings are specific words or phrases that database employees use to tag articles that have content focused on a particular topic, **regardless of how the author/s of the article describe the topic.
      • For example, in our search above:
        • We used the keyword Falls.  However, there is a Subject Heading in PubMed (MeSH - Medical Subject Heading) that particularly identifies the type of fall we may be interested in: Accidental Falls.  If we use this heading in a Subject Heading search, we'll get all results with on Accidental Falls.  
        • Our other keyword, Tai Chi, is a phrase has come from a language other than English so the English alphabet only approximates its sounds.  People may use different ways to spell this phrase with the English alphabet, such as Tai Ji.  The Subject Heading in PubMed (MeSH), Tai Ji, will connect us to articles on this topic regardless of the spelling used.
      • Subject Headings connect you to results relevant to your topic, even if you don't think of all the different words (keywords) that someone might use to describe the topic 
    • Once you identify some useful Subject Headings, you can use them for a Subject Headings search
    • From Results from a Keyword in Title search - Here are steps to view and identify Subject Headings (MeSH in PubMed)
      • View the Full Record of an article in your results by clicking on its title
      • If the article shows the statement 'PubMed - Indexed for Medline' you'll see an option to view Publication Types, MeSH Terms
      • Click the + sign by Publication Types, MeSH Terms and you'll see the MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) used to tag this article to group it with other articles that are focused on the MeSH Term topics
      • In our example, Accidental Falls and Tai Ji are Subject Headings (MeSH Terms) that come up in relevant articles after a search on falls and Tai Chi

Subject Headings

  • Use Advanced Search option in a research database - so you'll have rows and boxes to structure your search, and so you'll have the drop down menu to change the to specific parts of database records that you want to search.  In this case, change from 'All fields' (the default in PubMed) to 'MeSH terms' 
    • In other Research Databases, look for a drop down choice of 'Subject Terms' or 'Subject Headings.'
  • In PubMed - Basic Subject Heading Search (one Subject Heading for each concept)
    • 1st row - MeSH terms: Accidental Falls
    • 2nd row - MeSH terms: Tai Ji
  • In PubMed - Advanced Subject Heading Search (using synonyms - more than one Subject Heading for each concept)
    • *Do not change the dropdown - use the default, 'ALL fields'
    • Use the code [mesh] after each Subject Heading
    • Use () around synonym groups
    • 1st row: (Accidental Falls[mesh] OR Postural Balance[mesh])
    • 2nd row: Tai Ji[mesh]
    •    

Subject Guide

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Kevin Pardon
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