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BILD 38: Dementia, Science & Society: Search tips

Search Tips

These search tips will work for any database you search. 

Before you search... 

Think about your topic. What subject area(s) is it in? Knowing this will help you choose the correct database to search.

 Write down keywords/phrases that describe your topic. Think about multiple ways to describe the same concept or phrase. The more you can write down, the easier it will be to think of alternative search terms when you search databases. If you need, help, use this worksheet.


When you are searching... 


Identify the words or phrases unique to the database that you can use to find more relevant results. Each databases has it's own language. In PubMed they are called "MeSH terms"; in PsycINFO or Sociological Abstracts they are called "descriptors." It really doesn't matter what they are called, but you should be able to find the terms that work best for your articles. If you search using these terms, along with the ones you brainstormed, then you will be sure to find relevant articles. Use this worksheet to help you keep track of the search terms you are using.

Use database features that might help you with your search. For example, many databases have limits that you can use to look for articles published during specific dates. Take advantage of reading review articles first as a way to learn more about your topic before reading primary literature. 

E-mail citations to yourself. All databases have a way for you to select or mark records and save them to a list (aka "shopping cart"). Before you leave the database, e-mail the records to yourself. This will help you keep track of what you have found. Plus, you will have all of the information you need to created a reference list for your project.

Get full-text articles

If you are in a database, click on . Need help using UC-eLinks?

If you have the citation, check the catalog, Roger. Search for the journal title. You get a link to the electronic journal (if we own it) or information about where to find it in print. If we have it available in our print collection, we can copy and deliver it to you for a small fee through our document delivery service.

If we don't have what you need, place a request and we will get it for you for free. Be sure you have enough time for a request (usually 5-7 business days).

Questions? Contact me

Jenny Reiswig's picture
Jenny Reiswig
UC San Diego Library
9500 Gilman Drive, 0699
La Jolla, CA, 92093