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LIB 220: Intro to Interpersonal Communication for Health Professionals: Search Strategies

See recommended places to find articles for this class.

Why Use a Search Strategy?


1. Crafting a search statement helps you think about and define what it is you're researching.

2. A search statement will save you time and energy, as what you're searching for will be in a database friendly format.

3. Keeping track of your search strategy allows you to keep track of what's worked and what needs to be tweaked.

4. A search strategy helps your research remain consistent if you use multiple databases.


Search Strategies

These search tips can be used in most article databases:


1. First, look at your research topic or question and pick out the terms that best describe what you're interested in. For example:
If my research topic is verbal communication of empathy by physicians, I would select:

 verbal communication




2. Second, use quotation marks around any phrases of two or more words:

 "verbal communication"



Otherwise, the database will find anything that mentions both of those words (verbal and communication) instead of the phrase that you mean (verbal communication). Note that single words do not need quotation marks.


3. Third, combine the key words or phrases with the word AND. This will find sources containing all of the terms.

"verbal communication"

AND empathy

AND physicians


4. Fourth, consider if there are synonyms that might be appropriate for any of the key words or phrases you're searching for. If so, try using OR between the two words; this will tell the database to find sources containing either the first word/phrase or the second one. Not necessarily both!

"verbal communication"

AND empathy

AND physicians OR doctors


5. Use an asterisk (*) after the root of a word for which there may be various endings that are appropriate to your search. This is called truncation.

ex. empath* retrieves empathy, empathetic, empathizes, empathize, etc.

After applying these hints, our search statement looks like this, and is now ready to be plugged into a database:

"verbal communication"

AND empath*

AND physicians OR doctors


What About Google and Google Scholar?

The search strategies listed on this page work well in both Google and Google Scholar! Follow the directions below to link Google Scholar to the MCPHS Library, which increases your odds of finding free full text articles through that database.

Connect Google Scholar and the Library

Connect Google Scholar and the MCPHS Libraries to get to the full-text articles you find. Don't skip or pay for articles - check the Library first!

"Get Full Text (MCPHS)" links appear for Google Scholar results.


Set Up Google Scholar & MCPHS Libraries:

  1. Click on Settings in the Google Scholar menu - usually in the top left or right corner.
  2. Choose Library Links on the left, search for MCPHS.
  3. Select MCPHS - Get Full Text (MCPHS) from the list of results.
  4. Click the blue Save button.
  5. That's it!

Next time you're searching, look for the Get Full Text (MCPHS) link next to each search result.

Don't see it? Click on more underneath the result. 

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