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Getting started with nutrition research in the library

Searching for Scholarly Articles

Once you have decided that the resources you need are scholarly articles, and you have chosen an appropriate database from the Find Articles tab, the next step is to create a search. 

Most people have learned to search using Google, but this is not efficient when using scholarly databases. Those who are searching efficiently do 4 things:

  1. Spend some time preparing their search strategy
  2. Spend less time scrolling and sorting through results
  3. Use features in databases that search engines don't have to refine results
  4. Find more articles more precisely related to their topic in less time

This guide is going to spend some time covering how to prepare a more efficient search strategy and some of the features of databases that make them useful for conducting scholarly research.

Preparing an efficient search strategy requires you to:

  1. Build a searchable question
  2. Generate appropriate synonyms
  3. Combine using operators and symbols that databases recognize

Build a Searchable Question

Synonyms for Keyword Searching

Operators (Boolean Logic)


Putting It All Together

Looking back at our list of synonyms, utilizing our symbols and combining ideas appropriately with Boolean operators, we might end up with a final search that looks similar to this:

("low carb diet" OR "low carbohydrate diet" OR "paleo diet" OR Atkin's) AND ("blood glucose" OR "blood sugar" OR HbA1c OR glycohemoglobin) AND ("type II diabetes" OR "type 2 diabetes" OR "diabetes mellitus")


  1. All keywords representing one of the ideas in our question are grouped together using parenthesis.
  2. Phrases are surrounded with quotes, even within the parentheses.
  3. Operators are always written out in all CAPS.
    1. This is to indicate to the computer that this is an operator, not a word to search.

The above search can be copied and pasted into a single search bar, like those seen on the front page of most databases.