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Asia-Pacific resources: 1. Compose

This page outlines a suggested process for conducting literature searches.

1. Define your topic/problem

  1. Precisely define your topic:
    • Don't include too many concepts
      • PREOPERATIVE ASSESSMENT FOR CHILDREN UNDERGOING BARIATRIC PROCEDURES
  2.  ​​Define your potential search terms:
    • Think about the individual parts that comprise the topic
      • PREOPERATIVE + ASSESSMENT + CHILD BARIATRICS
    • Define the order of importance for the elements of the search
      • BARIATRICS
      • ASSESSMENT
      • PREOPERATIVE
      • CHILD
  3. Define your scope:
    • Consider broadening or narrowing your search terms
      • PREOPERATIVE
        • Broader term = PERIOPERATIVE PERIOD
      • BARIATRICS
        • Broader term = OBESITY
        • Narrower term = BARIATRIC SURGERY
    • Consider the use of related or alternate terms
      • ANAESTHESIA = ANESTHETICS
      • CHILD = PAEDIATRICS
    • Once the terms are decided, be sure to include sub-topics when searching (see below) [in Medline, this is called exploding the term]

2. Creating your search terms

  1. Subjects versus keywords:
    • Where possible, try mapping your search term to a subject heading
      • This will help yield the maximum number of results
    • Most health-related databases utilise Medical Subject Headings (or MeSH)
      • BARIATRIC PATIENT = BARIATRICS
      • PREOPERATIVE = PREOPERATIVE PERIOD
      • ASSESSMENT = PATIENT OUTCOME ASSESSMENT or TREATMENT OUTCOME
    • Check relevant articles for the subjects and keywords used to ascertain potential additional terms
    • Use keywords as a way include terms where no comparable subject exists
  2. Spelling:
    • Many databases utilise American spellings
      • ANAESTHESIA = ANESTHESIA
      • PAEDIATRICS = PEDIATRICS
    • Some databases allow the use of wildcards
    • Depending on the database, ? and * can be used to indicate optional characters
      • PAEDIATRICS = P?EDIATRICS

3. Building your search (once you've logged into a database)

  1. ​Build your search incrementally (one step-at-a-time)
    • BARIATRICS
    • BARIATRICS AND ASSESSMENT
    • BARIATRICS AND TREATMENT OUTCOME AND PREOPERATIVE PERIOD
    • BARIATRICS AND TREATMENT OUTCOME AND PREOPERATIVE PERIOD​ AND PEDIATRIC​S
  2. Using Boolean search logic to expand/narrow your results
    • OR = expand the search results
      • PREOPERATIVE PERIOD OR PREOPERATIVE CARE
    • AND = narrow the search results
      • BARIATRICS AND PREOPERATIVE PERIOD
    • NOT = exclude certain terms
      • CHILD NOT ADULT
    • Use brackets to prioritise the order
      • BARIATRICS AND (PREOPERATIVE PERIOD OR PREOPERATIVE CARE)

4. Limiting your search results

  1. Add your limiters incrementally (one step-at-a-time)
  2. Use additional subject terms to limit your search
    • Start broad, then narrow your search
    • Be careful not to use terms that are too narrow, or that do not return many results in their own right
    •  Broad term = HUMANS [this would eliminate articles about animals]
    • Narrower term = CHILD
  3. Limit your results to a particular date range
    • Publication Year = 2000 to current
  4. Limit your search by language
    • Language = English
  5. Limit your search to a type of article
    • Publication Type = Review articles
  6. Limit your search by age range
    • Age Group = All Child
    • This can be used as an alternative to adding a limiting subject heading
  7. Focus your terms
    • Return results where the term is considered a major point of the article
    • This can be very useful when using generic terms that return a large number of results
  8. Use keywords to highlight terms in the citation (or use CTRL-F to highlight terms in a result list)

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