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Nursing - Information Literacy

Tips for Expanding your database search results

Search retrieving too few articles?  Below are ways to expand (broaden) your search:

  • "Harvest" terms to add to search (synonyms)

    For example, a search for health care reform bill may retrieve citations described with added terms you can use for an expanded search using OR:


    health care reform bill OR health care bill OR "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" OR Affordable Care Act OR PPACA OR Health Care Reform/legislation & jurisprudence [MeSH] OR Obamacare

  • Use the online thesaurus in CINAHL, PubMed or PsycINFO to locate the standard term for your topic. 
  • Truncate one or more of your search terms using the database truncation symbol (usually * or ? )
    • Diab* (retrieves: diabetes, diabetic, diabetogenic)
    • Autis* (retrieves: autism, autistic)
    • Nurs* (retrieves: nurse, nurses, nursing, etc.). 
    • Warning! Truncation may also retrieve false hits.  A search on nurs* retrieves  “nursery school.” Diab* retrieves "diabolical."