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Searching Fundamentals: Refine Search


Apply Limits

Once you have completed the initial phase of your search by incorporating your primary concepts you are ready to apply limits to make your retrieval even more relevant to your needs. The limits available to you will vary from database to database. Common limit types for narrowing your retrieval include:

  • language
  • type of publication (e.g. journal article, book chapter, meta-analysis, randomized controlled trial, etc.)
  • publication year
  • human studies
  • age group(s)


Browse Retrieval

  • Looking at your results is the only way you can determine how effective your search was in retrieving the information you need.
  • Browsing your retrieval will allow you to identify particularly relevant results as well as provide you with additional controlled vocabulary terms and/or keywords you may want to incorporate into further iterations of your search.


Revise Search

  • It is unlikely that you will find all of the information you need after a single search attempt.
  • Be prepared to expand or narrow the scope of your search if you are not finding the right information or if you need more retrieval.
  • Typically, you also need to modify your strategy if you are searching for information in multiple databases/resources.