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Research Help: Search Tips

Get help finding the best evidence.

Search Tips
Adapted from USask Library website.

While article databases have a variety of interfaces, or appearances, the strategy for searching them is generally the same. To search an article database:

  • Go to the search page
  • Enter your search terms into the search box. Think of the best words that describe your topic.
  • For the best results, combine keywords using AND & OR.
  • Another useful search technique is called truncation - a feature which allows you to replace one or more letters in a word with a symbol, usually an asterisk (e.g., farm*). Truncation broadens your search, allowing you to easily search for many words at once. Dent* would search for dentist, dental, dentistry, etc.


AND narrows your search

ex: diabetes and heart disease 

Both terms must be present.

OR broadens your search

ex: exercise or physical activity

Either one term or both must be present.

* broadens your search

ex: dent*

Finds dental, dentist, etc.


  • Once you have entered your keywords, select the search button. This will produce a list of results.
  • If you don’t have enough results, broaden your search using more keywords joined by OR.  If you have too many results, narrow your search using more keywords joined by AND.
  • The result list will consist of article titles, article authors, journal titles, journal volume, numbers, dates, and other related information (you will need this for your bibliography).
  • To access the full-text of an article, look for the following options: pdf full-text, html full-text, linked full-text, etc. Click that link to read the complete article online. 
  • If you cannot think of keywords or if your search is unsuccessful, ask for help!

Formulating Your Search Strategy

The USask Library has another guide which breaks down the steps required to search effectively. This includes other advanced search techniques, including Boolean searching, truncation, and more.

Note: This is a USask Library guide. Not all examples will be healthcare specific, and the guide may make reference to resources not available via SHIRP.

Formulating Your Search Strategy

Video Tutorials