3. Effective Database Searches

Sample Search

Now you have keywords, and tools to use with them. Here's what a very simple search might look like for the topic established previously (the correlation between respiratory illnesses in infants and the development of asthma later in childhood):

child* and asthma

This search will find results that contain the word asthma as well as some form of child (child, children, childhood).

In most databases that deal with health topics, this search will return far too many results. You will need to narrow it down. Here is a more complex search on the same topic:

child* and asthma and respiratory illness*

This should return fewer results, because you added another term that must appear.

You can get even more specific by nesting some more terms. For example, if you want to add the concept of babies or infants to the search, but either term is acceptable, you can nest them in parentheses as follows:

child* and asthma and respiratory illness* and (infant* or baby or babies)

(Note: Using baby or babies is better than using bab* because the latter will get you baboon and other unwanted words.)

This search will find items that contain the words child (or children or childhood), asthma, respiratory illness(es), and EITHER a form of infant or a form of baby. As you can see, this is much more specific than the initial search, and it should bring up a more manageable number of results.

>>Next page: Modifying a Search: Limiting or Expanding

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