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Health Sciences Library Research Module

Getting Started

When beginning research on a new topic, there are a few general items that are useful to keep in mind:

  • First, it's helpful to remember that database searching, more than anything else, is essentially a trial-by-error process through which you use various combinations of search terms to explore the published scholarly literature. It's not at all uncommon to need to try several search term combinations before you start to discover articles that are relevant to your topic. 
  • If you have a complex research topic, then it is usually helpful to begin from a broad starting point from which you can narrow down your search further. This way you can avoid risking having too few search results to work with, which often happens with searches that start off too specific and narrow. Your starting point of course will depend on the specific search topic - and more complex research topics will often have several potentially good starting points to launch off of and begin the trial-by-error research process.
  • Also, as mentioned before, you have the choice of starting searches in either any of the individual library databases or by using the library's QuickSearch tool to simultaneously search most (but not all) of the library's resources. Whichever of these you choose, however, you will still be using the same database search strategies that will be further detailed in the next two sections of this guide. 
  • Finally, don't forget that no matter where you are in the search process, you can always reach out to your Sacred Heart librarians for assistance whenever you'd like.