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Veterinary - Research Databases: Home

Steps for conducting a search

Research databases perform differently than searches of the open web. Once you have determined a research topic, following a few basic steps can help make your search for resources a successful one.


1. Identify the key concepts of your research topic.


Research question: "What are the risk factors for feline Diabetes mellitus?"

Key concepts: risk factors, feline, Diabetes mellitus


2. Choose keywords that can be used as search terms for your key concepts; this includes synonyms, variants, and related terms for your keywords.


"Risk factors" or risks

Feline or Cat or Felidae or Felis

"Diabetes mellitus" or Diabetes


3. Determine if you need to add special search strategies such as Boolean operators, truncation, phrase searching, etc. Note that using the Advanced Search tab in most databases will build your search and create a search string for you.


("Risk factors" OR risks) AND (feli* OR cat) AND ("diabetes mellitus" OR Diabetes)


4. Determine which databases you will search, then make sure you know how to effectively search within those databases.


5. Evaluate your results. If you have too few results, go back and try your search again with broader terms or fewer concepts. If you have too many results, use the filter options to narrow your results, or go back and try your search again with more specific terms or more concepts.


6. Complete your search in another database.

Basic database search strategies

Boolean searching

  • AND retrieves results that include all the search terms.

  • OR retrieves results that include at least one of the search terms.

  • NOT excludes the retrieval of terms from your search.

Graphically portrays what will be retrieved in AND, OR, and NOT Boolean operator searches.


Graphically portrays what will be retrieved in searches for (goats AND sheep) NOT llamas, as well as (goats OR sheep) AND llamas


Phrase searching

If you want to search terms as a unit, put the terms in quotation marks. Results will include only resources that include the exact phrase. 

Example: “dairy goats” retrieves only results that include the phrase dairy goats that appears together in that exact order and wording.


Truncation searching

Use an asterisk with the root of a search term to search all possible forms of that term. 

shows many term retrievals for Microb* search

Example: microb* yields results for the terms microbe, microbial, microbiota, microbiome, microbiologists, microbiology, etc. 

Be aware that using truncated words occasionally tags nonrelevant articles, such as if the truncated word includes an author's name or other terms not related to the subject being searched.



When joining multiple Boolean searches, use parentheses to separate each search part.

Example: hyperthyroidism AND (cat OR feli*) AND (treatment OR therapy OR therapeutics)


The School of Veterinary Medicine Library and LSU Libraries have a variety of databases available. This guide introduces these databases and explains how to use each of the them.

If you have trouble accessing a database, discover a broken link for an electronic resource, or have any questions or issues, please email us at or call 578-9800.

The original content of this research guide was created by Chairity Waugh.

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