When searching academic journal databases, It is important to enter search terms in a structured format. Here is a simple outline of the process of developing an efficient search strategy for the following sample research question:
How can we fight childhood obesity in schools?
Step 1. Isolation of main concepts of research question
"interventions," "childhood," "obesity" and "schools"
Step 2. Create a list of search terms. It is helpful to organize the search terms into a table format.
Search Term Table
|Concept 1||Concept 2||Concept 3|
Step 3. Use AND/OR and brackets ( ) to create a single search strategy
(interventions OR health education OR health promotion) AND (childhood OR child OR adolescent) AND (obesity OR obese OR overweight) AND (schools)
truncation (*): this allows you to search different versions of a word by placing an asterisk after the common letters (root word). ex. Searching child* will retrieve child, childhood, and children
phrase searching: placing quotation marks around one or more words allows you search them as a phrase, in the exact order you wrote them. ex. "health promotion"