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Capstone and Thesis Research: Home

Pre search

Exploratory search techniques

  • search for subject heading
  • look at publication history - ebbs and flows
  • pull a recent review - recommendation to do research?

Narrowing topic concentric circles


How to pick a topic:

  • something you care about 
  • something you want to build on
  • something where there is a research gap

Search Strategy

Strategic searching catches everything, and is repeatable!

After some exploratory searches you should have a sense of what is out there, and be able to narrow your topic to a clearly stated research question.

Use a search strategy worksheet to note keywords and concepts, and track your searches. You will need to accurately describe your search for your literature review - (See the Write up and Formatting Tab)

You also need to ensure you are searching in the right place - PubMed is often the starting point;  but there are other subject specific databases that you should search too. 

***If you need help with your literature review, fill out this search strategy form and schedule an appointment with a librarian.***

Subject Heading Searches: Going beyond keywords 

Using existing search strategies

Translating searches from one database to another

When starting any major Health Science research, PubMed is one of the first databases we recommend.  But it's not the ONLY place to search, remember to search subject-specific databases, like CINAHL, PsycINFO, etc.  You should also translate your PubMed search to Embase (a database that is comparable to PubMed in terms of size and scope.)

Try this automatic translator to take your advanced PubMed search and apply it in Embase and other Health Science Databases:

Ready made searches!

Researchers create and validate carefully crafted search strings, or "hedges".

You can often find a good hedge to help you with your search strategy.

PubMed research librarians have a blog which shares some useful pre-created search strings - see if there are any that are relevant to your topic, and use them as a starting point, or as a model for your own search.