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, strengths, and weaknesses of each search strategy since examples relevant to this topic are retrieved using each strategy in PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane, and PsycInfo.
4 Search Strategies:
The examples below use this research or PICO question as a starting point: In elderly with high risk of falling, is tai chi effective in preventing or reducing falls?
*Examples refer to searching in PubMed, but the same methods can be used in other databases
Use the 2 Broad Strategies to get a snap shot of a database and find out how much and what type of material it has on your topic; look through results to find more ideas for keywords or ideas for Subject Headings that will be relevant to your topic
Use the 2 Targeted Strategies to focus in on the most relevant results for your topic, and to take advantage of the Subject Heading tags used to match up articles that have major coverage of a topic - regardless of the phrasing or terms used by each individual author
2 Broad Strategies:
2 Targeted Strategies:
CINAHL searching via ASU Library is set up with 'Suggest Subject Terms' as the default search.