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KIN 294: Introduction to Evidence Based Practice: PubMed | Sample advanced search

Tags: kin, kinesiology

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Learn4 | Learn 4 search strategies for use in most databases




Every time you enter keywords into a database, you have entered a search stragegy of some kind. Is it an efficient one? 





Always begin with a



               PICO Question   In the aged, is tai chi effective in reducing falls?


Always begin within

               ASU Library site to access password protected scholarly databases and full-text articles.




               Learn four search strategies (SS) that can be used for searching most research databases to increase speed and relevancy in retrieving best evidence. 







PubMed Default SS                    falls tai


Most  all researsh databases DEFAULT to searching your keywords somewhere in the title, abstract and other searchable fields, usually not the full-text article.


The Default SS ADVANTAGE is that it quickly identifies and retreives all citations with your PICO keywords appearing somewhere in the title, abstract, or other searchable fields. The full-text article is not currently searched at this time - perhaps sometime in the future.The Default SS DISADVANTAGE is that is cannot only target those citations where you PICO keywords are the major focus or are related as required to answer your question. i.e. Population & Intervention. If retrieval contains many citations, time spent sorting for relevancy is not justified within the academic setting or the workplace. Consider combining the Defaulty SS with another SS to increase speed and relevancy.


Another Default SS ADVANTAGE is that the keyword search must be used in addition to the MeSH SS because there are various reasons in delays for assignming MeSH to an article and a keyword.





PubMed Bulls-eye SS  (Title)        falls [ti] tai [ti]

Most  all research databases provide an "Advanced Search" mode with drop down menus allowing you to search for your keywords in the TITLE. 

The Bulls-eye SS ADVANTAGE is that it targets only those citations with your major PICO keywords appearing in the title of the article, which increases your chances of retrieving a few highly relevant articles where your PICO keywords are the major focus and desired relatedness. Additionally, an added bonus is the list of references at the end.  This is a great "getting started" SS.

The Bulls-eye SS DISADVANTAGE is that it only retrieves citations with the synonyms that you used and important citations could be missed without identifying synonyms used by authors and researchers and inserting them into the SS.

PubMed Synonym                      falling [ti]  tai [ti]


The Synonym SS ADVANTAGE is that it retrieves additional citations that could have been missed using other keywords.  This SS assumes that authors/researchers could use a different synonym for your initially selected PICO keyword.


 PubMed MeSH                          accidental falls [mh] AND tai ji [mh]




Most  all research databases provide their "suggested keywords" once your keywords are entered and searched. These "suggested keywords" usually appear in a column to the left or right of the displayed citations following a search. The general name of "suggested keywords" is called controlled vocabulary or descriptors.  PubMed's is called MeSH. Search their suggested keywords by clicking on them. Search for a link called "Search History" to refine searches by combining search strategies. PubMed's "Search History" is under "Advanced Search".

 The PubMed MeSH SS (Medical Subject Headings) ADVANTAGE is that it retrieves only those citations where its terms are a major focus of the article, already maps all other citations using other synonyms, and augments the retrieval with narrower/related MeSH terms that the novice may not know to use.  Additionally, MeSH is applied by subject specialists scanning the ENTIRE article, which adds more depth and accuracy to the retrieval.

The PubMed MeSH SS DISADVANTAGE is that there are various kinds of delays in assigning MeSH to citations and, therefore, it is essential that search strategies be combined to offset and leverage the advantages and disadvantages of each SS.

PubMed Search History Using LEARN4



Search History

Search Most Recent Queries Time Result
#17 Search postural balance [mh] AND tai ji [mh] AND accidental falls [mh] 17:48:38 32
#15 Search (#11) AND #14 17:47:47 64
#14 Search "Accidental Falls"[Mesh] 17:47:25 10860
#11 Search "Tai Ji"[Mesh] 17:46:54 364
#10 Search "Tai Ji"[Mesh] Limits: Humans, English, Systematic Reviews 17:46:54 39
#7 Search (balance OR falls OR falling) AND tai Limits: Humans, English, Systematic Reviews 17:46:03 28
#6 Search (balance OR falls OR falling) AND tai Limits: Humans, Meta-Analysis, English 17:45:51 3
#4 Search (balance OR falls OR falling) AND tai 17:45:51 232
#5 Search (falls [ti] OR falling [ti] OR balance [ti] AND tai [ti] 17:45:13 57
#3 Search balance tai 17:44:14 189
#2 Search falling tai 17:44:04 41
#1 Search falls tai 17:43:47 127

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