Keywords are specific words chosen to represent a concept. Searching for them in the title and abstract fields will locate papers where the concept is highly relevant. Keywords are also called textwords or natural language.
In this module, you will learn how to find relevant keywords, or natural language for our first, or P, element.
Remember, for each PICO element we will perform both a Subject Heading and a Keyword search. Each type of search has different advantages that will make our search more relevant.
Keywords are helpful when:
Be aware: In most databases the search engine is looking for a match of the keyword in the Title and Abstract, not the full text.
When using keywords or natural language we need to take into account:
Many of these can be addressed by using Wildcards. See: Using Wildcards below.
Now let's do the keyword search.
Consider again the research question: "In infants, does using disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers affect the likelihood of diaper rash?"
In Step 2, we identified the subject heading Infant.
For each concept search we will perform a related keyword search in addition to the Subject Heading Search.
From the Used For list in the Scope Note for infant we noticed that a related keyword for our subject headings is: infants, in its plural form.
Wildcards are useful for finding variations of the search term.
If you need to search a phrase made of two or more words, use quotation marks to mark the combination as a phrase.
CINAHL's default search includes the fields of Title, Abstract, Subject headings, PubMed ID (PMID), Digital Object Identifier (DOI), and Author. Of these, both Subject Heading and Author would bring in unwanted results. Our search would include:
To use a Title & Abstract search, add these additional steps before clicking "search":
Your search string will now look like: TI ( infant* OR baby OR babies OR newborn* OR neonate* ) OR AB ( infant* OR newborn* OR baby OR babies OR neonate* )
Searching within the title and abstract fields only, rather than in the whole record about the article, is more precise and will focus your search.