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UMass Amherst Libraries

PUBHLTH 301 Principles of Community Health Education

resources for group project

Focus Your Search

To help narrow your search to articles that focus on your topic, you may need to limit your search to only look for your health topic in limited fields like Title, Abstract or Title/Abstract (PubMed lets you search both fields at once). 

Connecting your Search Terms

Search Term Connectors:

  • Use AND to find articles that contain both terms you enter. AND narrows your search.
    • Example: anxiety AND undergraduates
  • Use OR to find articles that contain either terms you enter. OR broadens your search and lets you include different terms to express the same idea.
    • Example: undergraduates OR college students
  • You can also narrow your search by putting a search phrase in quotation marks, since in most databases, that requires an exact phrase match. Be careful with quotation marks, however, if there are multiple combinations of terms that mean the same thing.
    • Example: social anxiety will give you more results than "social anxiety"

Look for Types of Articles

Focusing on certain types of articles or articles that include specific methodologies can sometimes help with your topic research. Below are some suggestions. (NOTE: You do not want to include all of these at once, or you will likely get 0 results.)

  • A Systematic Review or Meta-Analysis will compare research studies, and often provide critical evaluation of those studies. Some databases have filters that let you limit to one of these types of studies. If the database you are using doesn't, you can just include those terms in your search.
    • Example: "social anxiety" AND (college students OR university students OR undergraduates) AND (systematic review OR meta-analysis)
  • Look for a filter for Evidence Based OR Research Study or add that to your search.
    • Example: "social anxiety" AND (college students OR university students OR undergraduates) AND "evidence based"
  • Include intervention and similar terms in your search.
    • Example: "social anxiety" AND (college students OR university students OR undergraduates) AND (intervention OR program OR workshop)
  • To look for ways to evaluate your intervention, try adding evaluation, assessment, measurement, and possible specific types of these.
    • Example: "social anxiety" AND (college students OR university students OR undergraduates) AND (evaluation OR assessment OR survey OR measurement)

Use References

A good tip when researching is to look at the reference section of sources you find useful. Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis articles are particularly good for mining references. This may help aid your research by directing you to new and applicable sources you may not have found otherwise.