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Communication Sciences & Disorders | SLP

A guide to the research process and information resources in CSD & SLP.

Search Well

LVC Library subscribes to over two hundred online databases.  This guide will help you:

Know what to look for when selecting a database.

Learn how to identify search terms that will pull up what you need.

Although many databases look different at first, most have similar features. Understanding how to use them will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your research.

There are plenty of things you can do when your search goes bad.  

The                             link is your friend.  Use it!

How to Search Effectively

  • Boil your topic down to the most important words.  Ignore superfluous words like in, the, of, with, against, affect, impact, improve.
  • Put each "different piece" of your topic in a separate search box, if available. Our topic: does Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy improve aphasia in stroke patients.  Enter each different piece of your topic on a separate line.  Synonyms are connected by OR--and kept on the same line--as seen below with stroke OR cva OR "cerebrovascular accident".  Do NOT choose OR from the pull down menu to the left of the search box.  Doing so likely to cause your search to be executed improperly (meaning your results will be seriously messed up).


  • Too many results?  Focus your search by searching for your keywords in the ABSTRACT field or the TITLE field.  Click on the Select a Field (optional) to select the abstract or title field.
  • Too few results?  Think of synonyms.  Add synonyms to your search--using OR--and keep your synonyms all on the same line
  • Increase your results by removing the least important "piece" of your search (while still retaining the "essence" of your search).  In the case above, it might mean removing the second line aphasia piece. 
  • Still no results?  Broaden your search slightly.  Can't find specific articles on constraint-induced aphasia therapy related to stroke caused aphasia?  Look for information on just constraint-induced aphasia therapy; sometimes within these broader articles, you'll find helpful information--not quite exactly what you needed, but very close.  Still no luck?  Try a different journal article database.
  • When reviewing your results, look for relevant subjects, descriptors, or MeSH terms.  Find these subject terms either on the results page at the bottom of the record or in the subject field of individual records.  Write down any relevant subject terms that you find.  
  • Go back to the search screen and using the subject terms or MeSH terms you discovered, search your subject terms in the subject or descriptor field (click on SELECT A FIELD OPTIONAL and choose subject).  MeSH terms or subject terms are gold threads--they will almost always lead you to the very most relevant results, b/c they allow you to search for information about the topic, not just information that happens to contain those words somewhere in the record (but may not be relevant).
  • Be sure to take advantage of:
  • Boolean connectors (AND, OR, NOT)
  • Exact phrase searching -- "cerebrovascular accident"
  • Field searches (searching within title, abstract, subject fields)
  • When you find an article you want, use the       link to find full-text.
  • No full-text?  After you've clicked on the Looking for Full-Text? link, there are times it will fail.  When it does, you will be provided with a Get Article link.  This connects you to Tipasa, or Interlibrary Loan (ILL).  Interlibrary Loan is a service where libraries lend to other libraries.  If you request an article via ILL you'll usually get a PDF of the article within 2-3 days.