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Finding information for Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

Finding Information for Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

Activity 2: Search techniques - examples

Most bibliographic databases work in a similar way and allow you to search for the topic you are interested in by using combinations of keywords.  
Now think of the keywords for the topic you are looking for, as well as any alternative ways of expressing them.  Here is an example:

Find articles on the manual therapy of ankle sprain injuries

The obvious keywords would be ankle, sprain and manual therapy.  You  can use the following devices (called ‘Boolean operators’) to combine your keywords:
  • AND e.g. ankle  AND  injury.  This will search for all records which contain both these terms
  • OR e.g. treatment  OR  therapy.  This will search for records containing either of these terms.  An OR search will find more hits than an AND search.  It is useful if your terms are synonyms or if they refer to similar concepts
  • PHRASE e.g. "manual therapy".  This will find only those records where these terms are found together as a phrase.  In most databases, phrases can be indicated by quotation marks around them
  • TRUNCATION e.g. therap*.  This will find any records which have words beginning with therap- :  therapy, therapist, therapeutic, etc.  Truncation is usually indicated by an asterisk (*)
  • e.g. ankle  AND  (sprain  OR injury).   Brackets can be used to combine any of the operators above.  As in mathematics, the operation within the brackets is carried out first, and the result is then combined with the term outside the bracket.  So, this will find records containing 'ankle' as well as either 'sprain' or 'injury'


One way to set out the possibilities for your search is to set out the keywords in a search sheet or grid.  See the following example using the topic and terms above.  Place the title at the top - manual therapy of ankle sprain injuries - and break this down into columns with alternatives for each, ie Therapy, Ankle, Injuries.  Alternative terms for therapy may be manual therapy, massage, physical therapy, physiotherapy.  Each term may be useful when using the database.

Example for physiotherapy topic, breaking down search into separate aspects of Therapy, Ankle, Injuries, each with alternatives or synonyms


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