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Pharmacy

Search Tips

Example topic: osteoporosis caused by steroid treatments for ulcerative colitis

ID the key concepts of your question, in this case—

osteoporosis

steroids

ulcerative colitis

Come up with related terms for each key concept.
TIP! Use the UT Libraries Generate Keywords tool to create search strategies like the one below.

Use truncation to search for terms that begin with a word root.

osteoporo*

will search for

osteoporosis, osteoporoses, osteoporotic, osteoporotically...

First, search each key concept separately (lines #1, #2, #3). Consult the database’s search history to see how many hits your terms produce. Big numbers are your friend. If there are too few hits for a key concept, add more synonyms or some broader terms. If there are too many hits, remove terms and/or use narrower terms.

Then combine search lines, as shown (lines #4, #5).

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Cool Tools!

YALE MeSH ANALYZER

"When conducting a comprehensive search, it is critical to design a strategy that retrieves all potentially relevant articles. Experienced searchers know the power of using controlled vocabularies but also the frustration of not being able to pinpoint articles known to be relevant but missing from the initial retrieval set.

"Librarians have long analyzed Medical Subject Headings to design and refine searches. A MeSH analysis grid can help identify the problems in your search strategy by presenting the ways articles are indexed in the MEDLINE database in an easy-to-scan tabular format. Typically, each column in the grid represents an article, with identifying information of the article at the top of the column, such as the PMID, the author, and the year of publication. The MeSH terms are sorted and grouped alphabetically for ease of scanning. Librarians can then easily scan the grid and identify appropriate MesH terms, term variants, indexing consistency, and the reasons why some articles are retrieved and others are not. This inevitably leads to fresh iterations of the search strategy to include missing important terms.

"In addition to MeSH terms, author-assigned keywords, article titles, and abstracts can be included in the analysis grid."

 

The PICO Search

Ask a good clinical question by formulating your information need as a PICO search.

PICO stands for...

Patient or Population or Problem

Intervention

Comparison

Outcome

Try this type of search in PubMed, using the tool PICO Linguist (National Library of Medicine).

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