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Research Guides

Eastern Washington University Libraries

Health Sciences Article Searching- How To

This Research Guide is intended to help you with the basics on how to search articles and resources

Where to Begin When Searching

The hardest part of starting your research is knowing where to begin. Here are some steps to get you going.

Your Search Strategy

  • Define your topic
  • What question do you want to answer?
  • Identify keywords and phrases that describe your answer
  • Brainstorm alternate spellings, related terms, broader concepts, and more specific concepts
  • Identify the subject area or areas which your topic may fall under


Brainstorming Your Keywords

Refining Your Search

  • Test your keywords and phrases in each database
  • If you don't find what you're looking for right away, try some of the alternate terms you brainstormed
  • When you find an article that you like, try looking at the Subject Headings to see what terms they use in their article and then you can use those term to search with
  • Refine your search using the side menu options on the left. There you can limit your search results by date, language, geography, etc.


Structuring Your Search

Boolean operators allow you to combine words or phrases in specific ways.

AND requires that all words be present in the retrieved articles.

OR allows any of the words to be present in the retrieved articles.  Use for synonyms of words.

NOT requires that the word is not present in any of the retrieved articles.  Use with extreme caution because it can eliminate relevant articles.


Truncation or wildcards allow you to search for words beginning with specific characters. 

Many databases use an asterisk (*) to truncate.

ex: program* retrieves program, programs, programmer, programming, etc.

Be careful truncating short words.

ex: cat* retrieves cat, cats, category, catastrophe, catacylsmic, etc.


Phrase searching keeps words together as a phrase.  Many databases assume the Boolean "and" between words unless you indicate otherwise, usually by putting double quotes around the phrase.

ex:  "object oriented programming"