There are a number of various tools to finesse a search, but some of the most commonly used tools are:
- phrase searching
- nested searching
- Subject Headings
To find a specific phrase, with the words next to each other in order, use double quotation marks around the phrase:
To search for different forms of a root word, such as vaccin* to find vaccine, vaccines, vaccinate, vaccination, vaccinations, etc.. You can use a wildcard to look for alternate letters within a word, such as wome*n to find woman as well as women. The asterisk * is used in the library catalog and many databases for this.
- vaccin* AND wom*n
To build a search to combine the concepts, use a nested search:
- vaccin* AND (influenza OR flu) AND wom*n
When combining searches, use parentheses ( ) around different parts of the search, as in the example above. Just like algebra :)
Subject Heading Searching
Think of subject headings as labels or tags that someone has used to identify the subject of a book or article. The subject headings are standardized so that only one term is used for a specific subject. The Medical Center Library follows the MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) determined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, while Pius XII follows the Library of Congress Subject Headings as standards.