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VM 150: Hospital Procedures & Communication

Information and resources for students in VM 150: Hospital Procedures & Communication. Last updated: 12/11/23.

Questions to Ask

When beginning your search it is helpful to consider the following questions before looking at the resources. This can help save you time and limit unnecessary results.

  • Is your topic clear and concise?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What is the purpose for your search?
  • What are the important keywords or terms?
  • Are there similar terms to include?
  • Do you have any limits to your results? Examples include types of studies, publication dates, languages, etc.
  • What types of resources do you hope to find? What alternatives will you consider if these resources do not exist?
  • How will your search change if you do not find the resources you expect?

Other Things to Consider

Other things to consider when searching the scientific literature:

  1. Where you search will depend on what type of resources you wish to find. It may be necessary to search in multiple places depending on your topic.
  2. Searches should change over time. The information that you find may alter your original search topic.
  3. When creating a search strategy start broad and make changes one at a time to narrow your results.
  4. It is possible to narrow a search too much and retrieve no results.
  5. Make searches in different databases as consistent or similar as possible so that your findings are comparable.
  6. Always connect to resources through the MSU Libraries so you have access to the full text (when available).

Deciding Where to Search

Deciding where to search depends on the type of information you are looking for and the question being asked. It is also important to consider who the information is for. Some general guidelines:

  • Databases: collections of journal articles, usually limited to a specific subject area. May also contain other types of scholarly communications such as conference presentations.
  • Google Scholar: search engine that limits results to scholarly information. Includes all disciplines and a greater variety of sources.
  • Grey literature: items not published in a traditional format such as a book or journal article. Included association publications, white papers, conference proceedings, and other dissertations. Can be difficult to find.
  • Websites: pages and sites published online. Can be published by anyone so must be careful to judge reliability.

Search Techniques

These techniques can be used in most databases to help make your search more precise.

Truncation *

Searches for multiple word endings

Example: ethic* = ethic, ethics, ethical, ethically

Search Connectors


Can be used to narrow or broaden a search

Example: genetic AND engineering (narrow)
                genetic OR engineering (broaden)

Quotation Marks "..."

Search for the exact phrase

Example: "animal welfare"
                 animal welfare


Criteria set to limit or narrow your search results

Example: language, publication date, article type

Search Tips & Tricks

These guides provide an introduction to searching PubMed and Web of Science. They include tips for building a search strategy that may be useful in other databases.