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Infection Prevention and Control


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Arvind Kang

Essential Search Tips

AND finds records with all of your terms/keywords and narrows your search.

OR finds records with any of the terms and broadens your search.

Truncation finds records with a term's various endings. For example, nurs* = nurse, nurses, nursing, nursed, etc.

Quotation marks search for a phrase instead of individual words. For example, "social media".

Finding Specific Types of Research

Sometimes you will need to find a specific type of research paper, for example qualitative or quantitative research, or review articles. These tips will help you limit your results.

Quantitative (which is about the measurement of a construct and is often numerical, precise, measurable)

  • In the Abstract field of the search box try any of these related terms: quantitative, cohort, valid*, hypothesis, instrument*, method*, reliabilit*.

Qualitative (which is research for working at eliciting a narrative response and is experiential, not as easily measurable numerically)

  • In the Abstract field of the search box, try any of these related terms: qualitative, survey or surveys, interview*, observation*, narrative*, questionnaire*, focus group*, sample*, scale* etc.

Review (systematic, scoping, narrative, etc.)

  • In the Title field of the search box try searching for the word review. If you want a specific type of review, you can add that - for example systematic, scoping, narrative, etc.


Tips for Finding Canadian Information

Other Databases

  • Add AND Canad* to your subject search in any database;
  • Try using the word Canad* in the field that denotes: Publication Name, Journal Name, or Publication Title.
  • For a Canadian point of view on a topic try searching for Canadian News information.

Fixing Search Problems

Zero Results
  • first check your spelling :). And don't forget that British (paediatric) and American (maternal labor) spelling might effect your search results
  • try using a term that might be more inclusive. For example, if your search yields no results for achondroplasia, then try dwarfism, or even try musculoskeletal then AND this term with disorder* OR disease*.
Too Few Results
  • use truncation and OR (ie. baby OR babies OR infant* OR toddler*), (heart OR cardiac) to expand the results
  • find a CINAHL or MeSH Heading subject and click the Explode box to find all articles indexed with terms relating to your heading
  • search for articles listed in the bibliographies at the end of relevant articles that you do find
  • perform an Author field search for the names of relevant authors who are listed in these bibliographies
  • if you know a specific author, or journal title, or article title that is relevant to your topic, do a Cited Reference search in CINAHL to see all the articles that have referenced these.
  • click on Find Similar Results (Ebsco databases) or See similar documents (Proquest) from the full record page of a relevant article
  • try Cited References (CINAHL) on the search results page or References (Proquest) on the fulltext page for more relevant articles
  • try the Social Sciences grouping of databases if your topic is geared to social, psychological, or family issues
Non-relevant Results
  • use proper subject headings. For example, CINAHL uses Psychiatric Nursing rather than Mental Health Nursing
  • find a relevant article in your list of results, and use its proper subject headings to redo your search
  • try the Social Sciences grouping of databases if your topic is geared to social, psychological, or family issues
Too Many Results
  • if your search yields too many results (ie. diabetes), use AND to make it more specific (ie. diabetes AND therapy AND adult)
  • search for your terms in the Title field (from the pull-down menu in the "field" search box)
  • use database-specific proper Subject headings/terms
  • in CINAHL try specific Subheadings (by checking the box beside the blue hot-linked subject term, appearing after you have done a CINAHL Headings search)
  • find a CINAHL Heading subject and click the Major Concept box to see articles that emphasize your specific subject
  • use more limiters (ie. date range, publication type, special interest groupings, document type, journal title etc.)