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Systematic Reviews in the Health Sciences


Putting the asterisk symbol at the end of the root of keyword can increase the sensitivity of your search and help you find more results


electrotherap*=electrotherapy, electrotherapies, electrotherapeutic

Keep in Mind: The * symbol is more effective in some databases than others.

Start With your Research Question

Before you begin a database search, it is helpful to break down your questions into keywords or phrases.

  • Example: For adults with adhesive capsulitis, are electrotherapy modalities associated with improved function?
  • Possible keywords & phrases:adults, adhesive capsulitis, and electrotherapy modalities

Using these keywords can help you get started with your database search.

Combining Search Terms

Combining keywords or phrases with the word AND tells the database to look for articles that include BOTH words. Example: adhesive capsulitis AND electrotherapy modalities




Combining keywords or phrases with the word OR tells the database to look for articles that include EITHER or BOTH the words. This expands your results, and is useful when you want the database to look for synonyms.

Example: adhesive capsulitis OR frozen shoulder




Tip: When you are combining terms with AND and OR, it is helpful to capitalize them. This lets the database know that you are looking to combine terms, and that you are not looking for articles that contain the keyword and.

Health Sciences Librarian

Kate Silfen's picture
Kate Silfen
Mugar Memorial Library