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Narrowing a search:

If you are getting too many results then try one of the following methods.


  • Limit your search to a field
    eg, title (ie article title). Example search in Scopus:

  • Apply a narrower term to your search
    eg, exercise therapy instead of exercise
    myocardial infarction
    instead of cardiovascular disease

  • Search for a phrase instead of two separate keywords (especially important in Scopus, Google, Google Scholar)
    eg "autism spectrum" (use speech marks) instead of autism spectrum.

  • Tick the 'Focus' box for the MeSH, CINAHL Heading, Emtree Heading, APA PsycINFO heading.
    See Explode & focus.

  • Add another concept to your search
    eg, heart disease AND obesity AND nutrition instead of heart disease AND obesity.

  • Remove any terms or words that broaden the scope of your topic
    eg, if your topic is glaucoma remove eye disease (if you have included this) from your search.

  • Limit your search by date
    eg, last 2 or 5 years.

  • Limit your search by language
    eg, English.

  • Limit your search by publication type
    eg, randomized controlled trial, multicenter study, review.

  • Limit your search by clinical query if appropriate
    eg, therapy

  • Limit your search by age group if appropriate.

  • If you used truncation check you have truncated at the best place in a word eg nurs* will find nurse or nurses or nursing or nursery or nurseries. It might be best to spell out each appropriate word.

  • Add an appropriate subheading if you are using MeSH in Medline (Ovid) or subject headings in CINAHL Plus.

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