Before you start searching for evidence to support your response to an assessment item, it's good to have a grasp of some of the general principles of online searching.
Note: Databases and other online resources are similar in what they offer and what they do, but are different in their specific appearance and functionality. It's a good idea to check a database's Help section to check and confirm how to search in that particular database.
Search Operators (called Boolean Operators) allow you to fine-tune your search by using the operators AND, OR, and NOT to combine search terms to broaden or narrow your search. You should always type these operators in capital letters.
Truncation is used to search for the same term with different word-endings. This is another way of making your search broader, with more results.
The truncation symbol is usually the asterisk (*).
|If you search for:||You will get:|
|midwi*||midwife, midwives, midwifery etc|
|team*||team, teams, teamwork etc|
|diet*||diet, diets, dieting, dietician, dieticians etc|
A phrase search is where multiple words entered together in the search box are searched for as a phrase, rather than as individual words. Most databases (including EBSCOhost, ProQuest and also Primo Search) require you to search for a phrase by enclosing it in double quotation marks
Ovid databases default to a phrase search, so don't require quotation marks. But if in doubt, enclose a phrase in double quotation marks.
Examples include "normal birth" or "team midwifery".
A proximity search forces a database to find results where one search term appears within a certain number of words of another search term.
The proximity operator varies according to the database. It is placed between the keywords/phrases in the same way as other combining operators. You can usually specify the number of words between the two terms.
The examples below are from EBSCOhost but the databases vary. If you want to use proximity searching you should check the database's Help section.
In any EBSCOhost database:
|If you enter, in the search box:||You will get:|
|pregnancy N4 diet||Results where the word pregnancy occurs within 4 words of the word diet|
|"discharge planning" N3 attitud*||Results where the phrase "discharge planning" occurs within 3 words of attitude, attitudes, attitudinal etc|
Database records consist of fields that contain specific pieces of bibliographic information. Common fields include: Author(s); Article title; Journal title; Date/year of publication; Subject headings; Abstract (summary).
Most databases will default to searching in all the main fields, but changing this to search only in a specific field, or fields, can give you more precise results.
For topic searching, it's a good idea to search in the Subject field, but searching in the Title field can work quite well too. If you are searching for an author, you can search only in the Author field; if you are searching for a publication, you can search only in the Publication (also known as the Source) field.
To find the various fields in which you can search, look for drop-down boxes or menus.
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