Fitness and Human Performance: Search Strategy

Resources for finding articles, books, videos, and more related to exercise and health science.

Search Strategy & Tips

  1. State your topic or research question in your own words. (example: "Why does exercising regularly reduce depression"?)
  2. Identify the most important keywords (usually the nouns) or short, commonly used phrases.
  3. Think of variations (singular, plural) and synonyms for your terms. It may help to check Thesaurus.com.
  4. Create an initial search statement using connectors or logical operators (especially AND, OR) and, if appropriate, wildcards.
  5. Try it out in one or more databases and/or Library Catalog.
  6. Look for other good keywords and subject terms in search results.
  7. Try revised searches until you're satisfied with the results.
  8. Depending on the volume of results, consider narrowing or broadening your topic.
  9. If you're having difficulties, contact us.

Find more (broaden your results) with OR and wildcards:
   exercise OR physical activity   (finds either term)
   depression OR mood
   cardi*   (finds cardiovascular, cardio, cardiac, cardiologist etc.)

Find less (narrow your results) with AND:
   steroids AND baseball   (only returns records that match both terms)

Find less with NOT:
   gymnastics NOT olympics   (excludes records that mention olympics)

Sample search statement:
   (steroids OR performance enhancing drugs) AND abuse

Limiters can help to improve the relevance and focus of results:

  • Narrow results with standard  limiters (peer-reviewed, date; document type; language; etc.)
  • Some databases allows quotation marks for an "exact phrase"
  • In databases for a specific subject discipline, look for specialized limiters (such as role of organism in Biological Abstracts)
  • Try restricting some terms to the title or abstract field
  • Try restricting some terms to the subject or descriptors field. Subject terms can vary from database to database, but using them usually improves relevance so look for them in results displays and detailed records. Many databases include a subject terms thesaurus.

 

  • Look for different, relevant keywords or subject terms to try
  • Simplify your search by removing less critical search terms or limiters
  • Expand some terms to the all text or full text field, if provided
  • Try a different database or OneSearch

Using Individual Resources

  • For best results, use the Advanced Search option in a database when you are doing a search that uses multiple concepts or terms.
  • Don't limit to full text when you're exploring a topic in depth. You'll miss full text that's available via Find It @ UHCL.

  • While MeSH subject headings can be helpful for focusing results, sometimes they are not assigned until weeks after an article is placed in the database. To find the most recent articles, you also may want to try using keyword searches (i.e., without requiring them to appear in the subjects field).
  • The SU Subjects field in MEDLINE with Full Text includes both MeSH (National Library of Medicine medical subject headings) and "contributed indexing" keywords.
  • Don't limit to full text when you're exploring a topic in depth. You'll miss full text that's available via Find It @ UHCL.
  • Some limiters such as source type, which includes Academic Journals, only are available in the "Refine results" panel on the left side of search results screens

Enter keyword searches or choose Subject Guide Search to build your search from the database's subject headings.

Enter your search terms, and select a desired category:

  • Everything -- most library resources, both online (UHCL) and physical (UHCL, UH, and UHD)
  • UHCL Books and Media -- Neumann Library and Pearland Library's books, ebooks, and physical and digital media
  • All UH Books and Media -- UH, UHCL, and UHD physical books, DVDs, and CDs
  • Articles -- peer-reviewed journal articles, newspaper articles, and more
  • Course Reserves -- searchable by course or instructor
  • Institutional Respository @ UHCL -- digitized scholarship and creative works produced and owned by the UHCL community

When searching Everything or Articles, natural language often works well.

Examples:

  • how climate change affects polar bears
  • how to motivate people to exercise

For Books and Media, keywords or short, common phrases usually work better. Use quotation marks for an "exact phrase."

Examples:

  • "climate change" "polar bears"
  • motivation exercise

You also can search a digital object identifier (DOI) or  International  Standard Book Number (ISBN) for a known item.

Examples:

  • 10.1007/s00442-017-3839-y
  • 0838987753

For more complex searches like (climate change OR global warming) AND polar bears, use Advanced Search.

Once you have a set of results, select and apply relevant filters (e.g., peer-reviewed journals, available online, etc.) on the left of the screen.

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