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Systematic Searching for Health Science Research

Tips for Advanced Searching

An Example of a Search Strategy in Embase

Please note that the example of a search strategy presented here is not meant to be an example of how to search for interventions on Bell Palsy. It is meant to illustrate one way to set up an advanced search in Embase.

Emtree Terns Versus Keywords

Before beginning a search in Embase, it is helpful to identify both Emtree terms and related keywords for your search string.

Emtree describes the controlled vocabulary (or standardized vocabulary) used by the indexers of the Embase Database to identify key concepts in a scholarly article. Emtree has a similar function to PubMed's MeSH database.

Keywords: Keywords describe the everyday words ("natural language") you would use when describing a health topic.

In some cases, it can be helpful to use a combination of Emtree terms and keywords to do a search in Embase.

Finding Emtree Terms & Keywords

When you are beginning a search in Embase, we recommend looking up your keywords in the Emtree database. Below, when you look up the phrase "adhesive capsulitis," Emtree gives you the preferred term, which is "humeroscapular periathritis." You will want to use this term when searching for this topic in Embase.

Looking at the article citations themselves can help lead you to some additional keywords for your search. For example, a search using the Emtree term 'humeroscapular periarthritis' retrieves the citation below. Notice that the phrases 'adhesive capsulitis" and 'frozen shoulder" are used as synonyms to 'humeroscapular periarthritis.' Although these phrases aren't official Emtree terms, you can still use them in your search to expand the number of results that you will find in Embase. You will just want to be sure to include the official Emtree term in your search string.

Health Sciences Librarian

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Kate Silfen
Mugar Memorial Library