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EXSC 1800 - Technology in Exercise Science and Health Promotion

Technology in Exercise Science and Health Promotion

Search Strategies

Limiters: Most databases will allow you to filter your results using facets, (sometimes called limiters or refiners. These are the options (normally located on the left side) that allow you to only display results that meet certain criteria such as peer review, full text, year of publication, etc. Using limiters can really help to cut down the number of results you get from a search.

Reference Scanning: When you find an article you like, look at the bibliography listed at the end of the article. There is a good chance that you'll find other articles that would be helpful to your research.

Identify Alternate Keywords or Subjects: Often databases will list the keywords or subject headings that are associated with the article you find. You can sometimes find this information in the abstract of the article as well. 

Use appropriately professional terms; Avoid acronyms; Don’t use too many search terms: more terms = fewer results;

Boolean Operators: Use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) can sometimes be useful to help tie together or separate search terms. Use AND to only find articles that contain both of the keywords you're looking for, use OR to search for articles that use either one, and use NOT to eliminate a search term from your search. 

Truncation and Wildcards: Using the Asterisk * after a search term tells the database to look for several variations of words. For example child* will search for Child, Children, Childhood.  Wom* will search for women, woman... some databases use the ! exclamation point for the wildcard symbol. 


Keyword Searching



Subject Searching

Language Natural language (YOUR language) Pre-defined "controlled" vocabulary (database language)
Familiarity/ease of use Familiar & easy to use: a great way to start your research Not always intuitive:  pre-defined terms are used to describe ideas, concepts, objects, activities, classes of people, academic subjects, etc.
How searches work Searches for keywords anywhere in the record:  keywords are not necessarily connected in a meaningful way resulting in sources that may not be relevant Searches for specific pre-defined terms only in the subject heading or descriptor field, limiting your results to the most relevant sources
Flexibility Very flexible:  can combine together in many ways Less flexible:  need to know the exact controlled vocabulary term
Number of results Often yields too many or too few results Due to its precision, it will typically give you far fewer results than a keyword search
Relevance It May yield many irrelevant results results are usually very relevant to the topic


Boolean Operators

Try out the Boolean Machine.

SIFT Video Tutorials

STOP. Ask yourself whether you know the website or source of information and the reputation of both the claim and the website. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed in your fact-checking efforts, STOP and take a second to remember your purpose.

Finding out the expertise and agenda of the source is crucial to your interpretation of what they say.

Search news databases for relevant stories. Use known fact-checking sites. Use reverse image searching to find relevant sources on an image.

Much of what we find on the internet has been stripped of context. In these cases, we’ll have you trace the claim, quote, or media back to the source, so you can see it in its original context and get a sense if the version you saw was accurately presented.

What Keywords!?

Video courtesy of Kimbel Library, Coastal Carolina University.

SIFT method for evaluating resources

SIFT is a series of actions you can take to determine the validity and reliability of claims and sources on the web.

The SIFT method, or strategy, is quick and simple and can be applied to various kinds of online content: news articles, scholarly articles, social media posts, videos, images, etc.

Each letter in SIFT corresponds to one of the Four Moves:

A graphic explaining the SIFT Method: The S stands for STOP, the I stands for Investigate the Source, the F stands for find other coverage and the T stands for trace claim quotes and media back to their original context.


Investigate the source

Find better coverage

Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context


Find more details on the Four Moves from Mike Caulfield's SIFT (Four Moves), which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.