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EXS 421 Physiology of Exercise

Types of Research

Background Research
Research to find needed information to understand and plan scholarly research.
This is the research on the medical terms for each condition; what each condition is in general; etc.

Scholarly Research
Research to explore the full topic. This will likely use a variety of search methods.
Ex: Cardiovascular disease and socioeconomic status; pulmonary disease and race/ethnicity


Use Subject Headings or the medical/technical term rather than natural language:

Natural Language: heart disease, heart attack
Medical Term: cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction

Natural Language: stroke
Medical Term: cerebrovascular accident, transient ischemic attack

Natural Language: lung disease
Medical Term: pulmonary disease

**Most databases have a thesaurus to help you find what terms that database uses. You can also use a medical dictionary.**

Also consider using search terms specific to a disease. There are many types of cancers and many types of heart disease.

  • Heart diseases
    • arrhythmia
    • coronary artery disease
    • angina
  • Cancers
    • prostate cancer
    • breast cancer
    • cervical cancer
    • lung cancer


  • Match databases to the topic.
    • Some databases are multidisciplinary (Academic Search Complete)
    • Some databases are discipline specific (CINAHL for nursing, ERIC for education, Naxos for music, etc.)
    • Use the A-Z Database list and Subject Dropdown Menu to find subject-specific databases
  • Break your topic into keywords. Databases don't like full sentences.
    • Pick out the main points of your topic
    • Good research topics usually have 2-4 keywords
    • Too few keywords = too many results
    • Too many keywords = not enough or no results
  • Try to think of other ways to say each keyword.
    • If you're looking for articles on soda, you may also have to use "pop," "soft drink," "cola," "carbonated beverage," etc.
    • Many databases have a thesaurus that will show you what words, or Subject Headings, they use
  • Know the difference between Keywords and Subject Headings
    Keywords Subject Headings
    Natural language words Controlled vocabulary, sometimes jargon
    Good for obscure or new topics Good for general and established topics
    Can generate irrelevant results Usually generates highly relevant results
    Need to think of all variations or alternatives Need to know the correct term
    Quick and flexible way to start research Less flexible, not always appropriate
    Searches several fields (title, abstract, subject headings, etc.) Searches Subject Heading field only

Boolean Operators help you define the set of results you want the database to show you.

AND — displays results that have both the terms searched for. This is a narrower search.

Example: If you have 15 items (5 cat, 5 dog, 5 cat & dog), a search for cat AND dog will bring up results for books and articles that have both "cat" and "dog" in them: 5 results.

OR — displays results that have at least one of the terms searched for. This is a broader search.

Example: If you have 15 items (5 cat, 5 dog, 5 cat and dog), a search for cat OR dog will bring up results for books and articles that have either "cat" or "dog" in them: 15 results.

NOT — a way of excluding something. The term that comes after NOT is excluded. This is a narrower search.

Example: If you have 15 items (5 cat, 5 dog, 5 cat and dog), a search for cat NOT dog will bring up results for books and articles that have "cat" in them but excludes results that have "dog" in them: 5 results.

A visual representation of how each Boolean operator works using Venn Diagrams. There are three diagrams. Each has two overlapping circles, one labeled "puppy" and the other labeled "kitten." The AND diagram shows the middle, overlapping section highlighted, indicating that a search for "puppy AND kitten" returns results that have both words. The OR diagram shows both circles, including the overlapping portion, highlighted, indicating that a search for "puppy OR kitten" returns results that have either word as well as results that have both words. The NOT diagram shows only the non-overlapping portion of the “puppy” circle highlighted, indicating that a search for “puppy NOT kitten” eliminates all results that have “kitten” in it, including those that have both words. Image citation: "Using the Databases." Research - Expert Level. Crossett Library at Bennington College. 13 May 2016.

Use quotation marks (" ") around short phrases. This forces the database to search for that exact phrase, not all the words in any place or in any combination

"cardiovascular disease": 1,816,595 results

cardiovascular disease: 3,077,839 results

The default is for the search to look in "any field." This is great for a beginning, broad search but less helpful for specific searching.

Using Advanced Search, you can select which "field" you want to search:

A screenshot of the advanced search of Dragon OneSearch with the search field options open to show Any Field, Title, Author/Creator, Subject, and Genre with more options not shown.