Resources for: Allied Health

This guide provides an overview of search tools for topics in Allied Health

Start with:

Then try any of the following:

Also check out:

Library Research Checklist

Identify and define your topic; know what you are looking for.

Take the time to write down your topic in the form of a question and consider it from all angles. Try to be specific about what it is you want to discover about your topic. Then break out key ideas or concepts.  One method to try is PICO, which stands for P (patient/problem/population); I (intervention/treatment); C (comparison to the intervention/treatment or control) and O (outcome).

Find background information on your topic (retrospective research).

Use textbooks, encyclopedias, dictionaries, directories and other guides to help you set the context of your research.

Make a list of keywords and phrases that describe the concepts of your topic. These should include synonyms, variations in spelling (US vs UK), word endings (singular, plural), variant terminology (electrocardiograms, electrocardiography, ECG, EKG), and related terms/concepts (cataract extraction, intraocular lens implantation).

Set parameters for your search.

Combine keywords and phrases using terms such as "OR" and "AND" (known as Boolean operators) to broaden or narrow your search results. Apply limits and filters to narrow your search, for example a date range, or language. A date limit may be helpful, particularly when a search retrieves too many results. Date limits may also be helpful if your question involves more recent technology or practice (e.g., ""digital hearing aids", "telepractice"). You can also limit by publication type, such as randomized control trials, case studies, etc.

Stay organized.

Write down or keep track of the key terms searched, the databases used, and the search parameters applied. Keep track of your search results. This will help you identify the most effective search terms, eliminate duplicate citations, and ultimately save you time.  

Explore various resources (primary, secondary and tertiary) to find information on your topic.

Search article indexes to find journal articles on your topic. Search in broad interdisciplinary indexes like Libraries Search, but don’t forget to make use of subject specific databases, as well. Article indexes are sources of both primary and secondary resources. 

Use Libraries Search to also find books, government reports, printed statistical material and other resources (both print and electronic).

Search the Internet for unique, authoritative, web-based resources. Statistical information and data sets are often available on government websites, for example.

Evaluate what you find.

Take a look at your results. Are you finding too much or too little on your topic? Refine your topic if necessary to either broaden or narrow its scope. You may need to try different resources or terms, or look into article indexes that you had passed over earlier. Talk to a librarian to set up a reference consultation if you need help.

Don’t forget to properly cite what you find.

Keep detailed notes about what you find and where you found it. Citation managers like Mendeley, Zotero and EndNote can help you manage citations, insert properly formatted citations into papers, and generate bibliographies.

Boolean Operators: A Cheat Sheet

The circle diagrams that help illustrate the relationships between the sets used in Boolean logic were named after another mathematician, John Venn. (The shading represents the outcome of the Boolean operation.)



When terms/concepts are combined with the AND operator, retrieved records must contain all the terms. For example: "Does taking aspirin cause Reye's Syndrome in children?" This will retrieve citations that discuss all three concepts in each article. The more concepts you AND together, the fewer records you will retrieve.

Boolean And



The Boolean operator OR allows you to broaden a concept and include synonyms. For example, kidney disease OR renal diseases will retrieve citations using either (or both) terms. This expands your search by retrieving citations in which either or both terms appear. The more concepts or keywords you OR together, the more records you will retrieve.

Boolean Or



The final Boolean operator NOT allows you to exclude concepts not relevant to your search. For example, you could search multi-infarct dementia by using Dementia NOT Alzheimer's

Boolean NOT


But be careful using this because you would eliminate records discussing both types of dementia, as all articles discussing Alzheimer's are eliminated.



Nesting, or mixing the Boolean operators, is a way to combine several search statements into one comprehensive search statement. Use parentheses ( ) to separate keywords when you are using more than one operator and three or more keywords. The order in which the operations (AND, OR , NOT) are processed can vary between systems. Searches within parentheses are performed first and operations proceed from left to right. For example, diet therapy AND (bulimia OR anorexia) will retrieve records containing the two concepts, Bulimia + Diet Therapy, or the two concepts, Anorexia + Diet Therapy, or records that contain all three concepts, Bulimia + Diet Therapy + Anorexia


Boolean Nesting 

If you don't put in the parentheses, the search statement is processed strictly from left to right, so that the AND is done first. This search strategy will retrieve records containing both of the concepts, Diet Therapy + Bulimia, or any records with the concept Anorexia.

Boolean Nesting No Para


Last Updated: Nov 17, 2023 1:26 PM