"adult obesity" - Searches for the times when these two words are next to each other in this exact order.
adult obesity [without quotation marks] - searches for these two word, regardless of if they happen to appear together or not. You may get an item in your list of results which is a book or an article about childhood obesity but also talks about an adult caregiver, for example. Quotation marks give your search more precision.
You can also narrow your search by using more terms and employing the connector AND. For example, the search "African American" AND Latinx requires that both terms be present in every result.
If you have several terms that could be interchangeable or equally valuable in your results, you can place them inside parentheses with the connector "OR" between them.
(black or "african american") and achievement - Searches for "achievement" and either the word "black" or the phrase "African American." Either term from within the parentheses will produce a search result.
Truncation means you include a special character at the end of your search term which will broaden your search to include any word that starts with that group of letters.
behavio* = Finds not only the word flavor but also behaviour, behavior, behaviors, behavioral, and other variant endings.
child* = Finds the word child, along with childhood, children, etc. (This can also pick up personal names, like Childress or Childs, so your search result may be muddied when you truncate.)
Using a Wildcard in your search means you can insert a symbol anywhere in a search term not just at the end, like the example above.
wom?n = Finds both women and woman
Not all databases use truncation and wildcards, so check the Help pages for that database if you're not sure.
"domestic violence" OR "child abuse"
Includes all the information on "domestic violence" as well as
all information on "child abuse". Use OR to broaden a search.
"domestic violence" AND "child abuse"
Includes only information which includes both of
these phrases. Use AND to narrow a search.
"domestic violence" NOT "child abuse"
Includes information which includes the phrase
"domestic violence" but only if that information does not
include the phrase "child abuse."Use NOT to narrow a search.
It is easy to follow reference citations from an article to get older research on the same topic by reviewing the bibliography. Some databases also allow you to see which articles have cited an article. For example, you may have found an excellent article in the database Social Services Abstracts from the year 2002, but it seems dated. If other articles since 2002 have referenced the same article in their own papers, Social Services Abstracts will include a link to these articles so you can follow the research forward from 2002. Look for links labeled "Times cited," "Cited by," and similar language. Some databases will require that you click through to a specific reference to see the link to citing articles.
Another tool offered by some databases is a link to related records. These are often articles that have cited some of the same articles cited in the article you are viewing.
Need some help and tips on performing a literature review? Try one of these books.