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Planning a Database Search

Planning a search is a combination of problem-solving skills and basic technical skills. This guide takes you through the basic steps that will help you plan an efficient and effective search.


Before you continue reading this guide there are some definitions of terms frequently used when talking about searching that you should know:

Journal article An article from a journal, usually from a peer-reviewed journal, publishing research on a single topic. Typical peer-reviewed journal articles contain a literature review, a description of the research methodology used, the results of the research, discussion of the implications of research, occasionally suggestions for further research on the topic and a bibliography.

Bibliographic record A single computer record of the information that comprises a reference to a journal article, typically including Author(s), Title of Article, Title of Journal, Volume, Issue and Page Number(s). In addition, there may be an Abstract summarising the contents of an article, Keywords that describe the topic of the article and a link to the Full Text of an article.

Database A database contains bibliographic records of journal articles. The size of databases ranges from hundreds of thousands of records to millions of records, for example, BNI, CINAHL, EMBASE or MEDLINE.

Search strategy Strategy we use to search databases to find only the articles that are relevant to the topic we are interested in.