Below is an example of turning a PICO question into a search strategy. Review the next tab "More Search Tips" for the basics on searching in the databases. The third tab, "Database selection", will discuss the most useful databases for certain topics.
Does dog-assisted therapy (I) reduce symptoms of dementia (O) in older adults (P) over traditional interventions (C)?
1: dog therapy AND (dementia OR Alzheimer's)
2: "animal-assisted therapy" AND (dementia OR Alzheimer's)
3: (dog therapy OR canine therapy) AND (elderly OR aged OR "older adults")
|Use keywords, not long search phrases||
Instead of searching for "How effective is mirror therapy in improving motor function after a stroke?" break down your search into the main keywords:
mirror therapy, motor function, stroke,
To get more focused results:
Use quotation marks (" ") to keep phrases together
Use AND to combine different keywords
|"mirror therapy" AND stroke|
To get broader results:
Use OR to combine similar/associated keywords
Truncate words that have a variety of endings with a *
(motor function OR mobility) AND "mirror therapy" AND rehabilitat*
rehabilitat* includes rehabilitation, rehabilitate, rehabilitated, rehabilitating
|Look for ways to limit your search in the database||You can often limit by type of article (scholarly and peer-reviewed) & year of publication|
How do we go about choosing the best place to search for our topic? I recommend searching in AT LEAST 3 different databases, including both subject-specific databases like Social Work Abstracts and PsycINFO and multidisciplinary databases like Academic Search Premier and Google Scholar CSUSM.
These are a good place to start if you're not quite sure what discipline your topic falls into.
|Academic Search Premier||Our most popular multidisciplinary database on campus. Covers a wide range of topics.|
|EBSCOhost||Includes all the EBSCO databases in one search. Good to use if you're really having trouble finding articles.|
|Google Scholar @ CSUSM||Google for academics. Be sure to evaluate what you find here, because scholarly journal articles are not the only thing housed in Scholar!|
These are a good place to start if know what discipline your topic falls into.
|Social Work Abstracts||Social work and human services literature. Relatively small database.|
|ERIC||Education literature. Useful for topics involving K-12 children.|
|Social Services Abstracts||Social Services literature.|