Once you have selected a variety of keywords to use, it is time to build your search query.
Remember that not all databases use the same search terms, but most use some form of Boolean searching, and many also use truncation and phrase searching, as described below. Using all three techniques in one search query can produce very precise results.
Many databases have help pages so you can learn what their specific features are. If you would like assistance with developing your search query, please request a consultation with an HSL librarian.
Boolean Search Strategies
Boolean Searching: Use the connector terms AND, OR, & NOT to structure your search query.
The IACUC requires you to record and include a sample of your search strategy. If your source will accept Boolean logic, use a sample string. If it does not, use a one-sentence narrative about your search words and processes.
Boolean logic is a code format that tells almost all databases exactly what results you want to find. You can use it to tell the database how to limit or expand your search. The basics :
AND - each term must be found in all of your results
example : ketamine AND xylazine
results : every article includes both ketamine and xylazine
OR - either or both terms must be found in all of your results
example : rompun OR xylazine OR anased
results : every article includes at least one but not necessarily all of the terms searched
NOT - the subsequent term will be eliminated from all of your results
example : xylazine NOT anased
results : every article includes xylazine, but no articles include anased
tip : only use NOT at the end of a search string
( ) - use parentheses to build compound search strings
example : (rompun OR xylazine OR anased) NOT clonidine
results : every article includes either of the terms within parentheses, but none include clonidine
" " - use commas to tell the database that the enclosed term must be found in the exact order & form as entered
example : "alpha 2 adrenergic agonist"
results : every article includes the phrases alpha 2 adrenergic agonist exactly as written; in other words, it would not include any articles that just had the word alpha, or adrenergic agonist, or alpha2 adrenergic agonist
tip : this will search EXACTLY for what is included and will not correct for spelling errors or extra spaces or punctuation
Truncation Searching: Many databases will let you search for multiple keywords with the same root by using a truncation symbol such as * or ? at the end of the root.
Example:Search in PubMed
Metastasis, 250,349 results
Metastas*, 314,055 results
Metastas* finds both metastasis and metastases
Take care – metas* finds over 600 word variations, making its results unlikely to be relevant.
Gateway to alternatives news, information, and resources on the Internet and beyond. Many useful tutorial and other resources to support alternatives searching. Home to the journal ALTEX: Alternatives to Animal Experimentation.