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Manuscript Preparation: Create Search Strategy

Why Search with (MeSH)

When searching a National Library of medicine database (Medline), why is it preferable to use Medical Subject Heading (MESH) instead of a natural language term (textword)?

  • A textword search only retrieves articles containing exact word matches in the title or abstract of an article.
  • Using a MeSH term retrieves articles about the subject, and does not rely only on an exact word match. 
  • Synonyms are automatically included when MeSH terms are used to search.
  • Searching for leg as a textword retrieves only articles containing the word leg.
  • Searching for leg as a MeSH term retrieves leg, ankle, foot, hip, knee, thigh.


Key Elements In Any Literature Search Strategy

1.Specify the search topic
2.Prepare an initial search strategy
3.Select a database (Ovid/MedLine, PubMed,Web of Science)
4.Execute the search
5.Evaluate the references
6.Rework the strategy if warranted



Boolean logic (AND, OR, and NOT)

How to construct more tailored searches using Boolean logic (AND, OR, and NOT)

No matter which search engine, the principles of Boolean operators are consistent.

Introduction to Boolean Logic

Manuscript Preparation

Kim Lipsey's picture
Kim Lipsey
Becker Medical Library

Office 104