Skip to main content

Systematic Reviews: Database Searching/Finding Journal Articles

A guide to finding resources for a systematic review in the health and medical sciences

Search Strategy

Database Searching Tips

1. Identify main concepts and keywords. Search the main concepts first, then limit further as necessary.

2. Find Synonyms (Boolean OR broadens the search to include alternative keywords or subject thesaurus terms):

  • pediatrics OR children
  • teenagers OR adolescents

3. AND (Boolean AND joins concepts and narrows the search)  :

  • occupational therapy AND children
  • stress AND (occupation OR job)

4. Be aware of differences in American and English spelling and terminology. Most databases use American spelling and terminology as preferred subject terms.

5. Use Truncation (putting * at the end of a word stem will search all forms of the word):

  • disab* (disability, disabilities, disabled)
  • child* (child, children, childhood, children's)
  • manag* (managment, manager, managers) 

6. "...." (inverted commas) use for a phrase

  • "mental health"
  • "occupational therapy"

7. Wildcard ? will search for any single letter in the space. e.g. wom?n will search women, woman, organi?ation will search organisation, organization.

8. Wildcard * can also be used where alternate spelling may contain an extra character. e.g. p*ediatric, will search paediatric or pediatric, behavio*r, will search behaviour or behavior.

Key Databases

Australian Databases

Additional Databases