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Wellness Promotion -- M.A.

Helpful research instructions, tips, and links for the graduate, completely-online Wellness Promotion program.

Keyword Searching

Keyword Searching

  • The type of searching with which most people are familiar
  • Use words or phrases that describe your topic
  • Enclose phrases in quotation marks to make sure the database searches that exact phrase, instead of the individual words of the phrase.
    • ex:  To search for the Animal Welfare Act, which was signed into law in 1966, you would need to search "Animal Welfare Act" in quotations.  Otherwise, the database will pull results where the individual words are in various places in the record, meaning the results may actually have nothing to do with the law you are seeking. 
  • Use Boolean operators if necessary to combine words and phrases, or use the Advanced Search options.

 

Controlled Vocabulary Video

Filtering the Database

Limiting the Number of Databases

  • Camden-Carroll Library has 171 databases.  You can find the most relevant databases for your search by narrowing down your options.
    • On the Databases A-Z list, click on "All Subjects."  Scroll down to find your topic, in this case, it would be "Health." 
    • Click on "Health" and you will see there are 28 relevant databases.
    • If you would like to further reduce your number of options, click on "All database types," and you will see various options.
    • For instance, if you want to limit results to "Journal Literature," you will notice there are 16 relevant databases.
    • So, there are 16 available databases that match "Health" and "Journal Literature."

Filtering Within the Database

  • Once you have chosen a database, you can filter within that database to make your search easier.  
  • You can do an "Advanced Search" option and "Select a Field" within the database.
  • And/or you can scroll down the page and apply various limiters like "peer-reviewed," "full text," "English," and so on.  

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are based on math and logic. 

They connect your search terms to either narrow or broaden your results. 

The three main Boolean operators are AND, OR, NOT. 

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AND = reduces the number of results

 ex:  cats AND felines          will only pull records that have both "cats" and "felines" mentioned in them.

  • AND is implied in many databases if you list your search terms

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OR = increases the number of results.

ex:  cats OR felines            will pull records that have either the word "cats" or the word "felines," which will increase the number of possibilities.

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NOT = reduces the number of results 

ex:  cats NOT felines          will pull records only mentioning "cats" and will exclude any record mentioning "felines."  

  • Databases usually give "AND" precedence and will join those terms first.
  • Enclose the words you want joined with "OR" in parentheses. 
  • ex:  dogs AND (cats OR felines)

Truncation and Wildcards

Truncation and wildcard symbols can vary by database.

  1. Check the help screens to see which symbols are used in a specific database.
  2. Common symbols are   * or !
  3. Use truncation or a wildcard symbol when:
  • Root words have multiple endings.  Example: sun = suns, sunshine, sunny, sunlight
    • Search for = sun*
  • Words are spelled differently, but mean the same thing.  Example:  color, colour
    • Search for = colo*r

Putting Phrases in Quotations

When searching for phrases, it is helpful to put them in quotations.  Doing so tells the database to search for the words in order, instead of placing an imaginary "AND" in between each one.  For example:

  • "dog* daycare"    will search for those particular words in this particular order. With the truncation of "dog," the database will also search for "doggie daycare." Thus, your results will be more accurate. 
  • dog* daycare       will search for each word separately as if the database is searching for dog AND daycare.  This means the records just need both words in them, regardless of order.  Therefore, you will have some records that may be about daycare but not dogs, and some that may be about dogs or doggies but not dogs and daycare. 

 

Searching with Controlled Vocabulary

Subject Headings/Controlled Vocabulary

  • Subject headings are used to help you find related information more efficiently.  They are the way a database or catalog defines a topic, which means you can find more relevant results quicker than with keyword searching.
  • To find subject headings for your topic:
    • Look to see if the database has an online thesaurus for subjects that match your topic.  You will probably need to check the Help Screen in the database.
    • Start with a keyword search, using those words or phrases that describe your topic.
    • Browse the results and choose a few that are relevant.
    • You can also look at the Subject or Descriptor Field and note the terms that are used after doing a keyword search.
    • Redo your search, using those terms.