Retrieving too many articles? Below are ways to narrow a search:
Narrow with subheadings (restrict your search to a subtopic of interest)
e.g., in PubMed: Hand hygiene/standards
- LIMIT by article type/publication type, by level of evidence (link to screenshots on limiting)
- Are you looking for an overview of a topic? "Review" articles synthesize a review of the literature that an author conducts at a certain point in time. A good quality review article may provide a useful overview and starting point.
- LIMIT by Age group if appropriate.
- LIMIT results by year of publication, language, etc.
o PubMed Clinical Queries http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/pubmedutils/clinical (PubMed research methodology filters are explained here)
o CINAHL Clinical Queries (click on “Show More, Search Options, to locate limits for clinical queries filters)
Retrieving too few articles? Below are ways to expand (broaden) your search:
health care reform bill OR health care bill OR (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) OR Affordable Care Act OR PPACA OR Health Care Reform/legislation & jurisprudence [MeSH] OR Obamacare
o In CINAHL, use the CINAHL Headings link to explore the tree structure of terms; EXPLODE to include narrower terms
o In PubMed, do a search using the MESH dropdown option; explore the tree structure of terms; using a broader term automatically EXPLODES to include narrower terms
o In PsycINFO, click on Search Tools, Thesaurus; explore the tree structure of terms; EXPLODE to include narrower terms
o Truncation symbols in a database, such as * or ? allow you to search on a root word and include plurals
- Diab* (to retrieve diabetes, diabetic, diabetogenic)
- Autis* (to retrieve autism, autistic)
- Nurs* (to retrieve nurse, nurses, nursing, etc.).
o Warning! Truncation may also retrieve false hits. A search on nurs* retrieves “nursery school”