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Animal Alternatives: Literature Searching for Animal Research: A Guide

Search strategies and advice for IACUC Literature Search

Step 2: Construct the Search Strategy

Once you have selected a variety of keywords to use, it is time to build your search query. Remember that not all databases use the same search terms,

  • Boolean Searching: Use the connector terms AND & OR to structure your search query. You can construct a particularly powerful search query by using parentheses ( ) to nest concepts together.
  • Truncation Searching: Many databases will let you search for multiple keywords with the same root by using a truncation symbol such as * or ? at the end of the root (ex: using handl* will find handle, handled, handler, etc

  • Phrase Searching: If you are looking for words are always next to each other, search for them as a phrase by surrounding them with double quotation marks.
    • Example: "blood sampling"
  • Keyword vs. Subject Heading Searching: Our focus so far has been on searching by keywords, or natural language. Subject headings, a system of controlled vocabulary used to classify information into specific categories, provide a very powerful way to locate focused, on-topic results. 


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