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Public Health

Advanced Database Help

Many databases use similar languages (AND, OR, quotes, etc.) but they often have different dialects. It is best to check out the specific help pages for each database as you are in it to learn all the tips and tricks to get the most out of each database. Simply look for a link that says "help" or "?" to explore. Below are some examples:

Keywords vs. Subject Headings

The most common type of searching is keyword searching. Using subject headings can give you more control in your search while ensuring you don't miss anything relevant.

What exactly are "keywords" and "subject headings"?

How to use Subject Headings (SH):

Not all databases use SH, but many do. When in the database, look for something that says something about "headings" or a "thesaurus." Below are a few examples of how it works in some of the databases used the most for health sciences (Click on each image for more information). 

CINAHL uses CINAHL Headings. Other EBSCO databases that use Subject Headings also have a link in the same area - above the search box. They will be called different things but work in similar ways.

Screenshot showing location of CINAHL Subject Headings on CINAHL's main page

Medline uses Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).Below is where to find MeSH when using PubMed - keep in mind that not everything in PubMed is also in Medline, so using MeSH in PubMed without keywords ONLY searches Medline. Medline in EBSCO provides MeSH searching similar to the CINAHL Subject Headings above. 

screenshot showing the location of MeSH on PubMed.gov

Embase uses Emtree

Screenshot showing the location of Emtree on Embase's home page

Citation Searching with Web of Science

This is a great way to find more articles that are related to the article you found!

Citation searching is the process of going both backward and forward in time to learn about the works that influenced an author (by looking at who they cited) and who the author themselves influenced (by looking at who cited them). It is a great way to see more publications related to your article of interest.

Web of Science (WoS) is still recognized as the first place to go when you are looking for citation information for most scientific disciplines. After doing a search, you will be able to see the number of times each article has been cited to the right of each listing. The number is a link that will take you to the actual articles (if they are in WoS). 

 

Once you go into a record (click on the article title) you will have access to more information, including citation information. On the right you will see the number of times cited as well and the number of citations in the article you are currently looking at. Both of these numbers are links to the actual articles. 

Citation Searching with Google Scholar

Google Scholar (GS) also provides citation information and has recently paired up with Web of Science (WoS) to show their citation information as well. GS's cited numbers include duplicates of what is provided in WoS as well as some book chapters, conference proceedings, and other documents which aren't included in WoS. GS also sometimes duplicates citations leading to inaccurate numbers. For both these reasons, the number of times cited in GS is often larger than that in WoS. It is still a good way to find similar articles and to get a general idea of citation numbers, especially for items not in WoS.

Screenshot of Google Scholar search showing cited by numbers.

(Note that the WoS numbers and links only show up if you are on campus or logged in by vpn - ssl.binghamton.edu)

For more information and tips on using Google Scholar see the box on the front page of this guide.