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Research Guides@Tufts

Occupational Therapy

Getting started

1. Identify the scope of your topic

  • Sample public health problem: HIV/AIDS impact on people who take drugs intravenously
  • Tip: Your topic will likely evolve as you search, and you will need to adjust the scope based on the number of results you find
  • Tip: It is helpful to look for background information on your topic from resources like Medine Plus or the World Health Organization's fact sheetto help you identify specific aspects or areas of research you'd like to pursue

2. Develop a list of Keywords:

  • Keywords are the important nouns from your topic
  • Tip: You will find more (and sometimes better) keywords as you search by scanning titles and abstracts of the articles you find. Adjust your search accordingly!
  • Tip: Add in keywords like "epidemiology", "risk factors", or "morbidity" to find information about these aspects of your public health problem
Main keyword Other keywords (synonyms)
AIDS "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome"
drugs substances
intravenous injecting

3. Combine your keywords in a meaningful way

  • Use the word "OR" to combine all synonyms and use the word "AND" to narrow your search. After combining all of your keywords, your search strategy will look something like this:
    drug* AND (inject* OR intravenous) AND (AIDS OR "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome")
  • Tip: Put quotation marks around phrases
  • Tip: Use an asterisk at the end of a word to capture all alternate endings (for example, use inject* to find inject, injection, injecting, etc.)