UTS Library

92902 Care of the Acutely Ill Child: Searching Databases

In this guide:

Acceptable Resources

For a literature review it is common to use books, journal articles, theses, conference papers and reports.


 This online module will show you how to approach literature searching step by step. 

MeSH Terms vs Keywords

Most databases search using keywords, and find articles that can contain your search terms anywhere in the title, abstract, full text, or reference list. Keyword searches are easy and convenient, but will often find articles that are not relevant to your topic. 

A more efficient way of searching is using a 'controlled vocabulary', or thesaurus of terms. These terms classify and group together articles according to what they're about. Using a controlled vocabulary ensures that you won't get as many irrelevant results.

Many medical databases like Medline and CINAHL use a controlled vocabulary called MeSH (Medical Subject Headings). MeSH terms efficiently help you find relevany articles, and work best when researching a well established topic, like diseases and populations. They don't work as well for newer, multidisciplinary topics. 

The table below explains the difference between keywords and MeSH terms, and what each is best for.

MeSH terms Keywords
Established concepts (e.g. Diabetes, Heart Disease) Newer concepts (e.g. eHealth)
Core biomedical concepts (e.g. diseases, drugs, chemicals, anatomy) Multidisciplinary topics (e.g. psychology, humanities topics)
Traditional aspects of medicine (e.g. Surgery, Immunology) New or modern aspects of medicine (e.g. rehabilitative science, public health)
  Recent articles that haven't been assigned MeSH terms yet
  Articles that may have been given the wrong MeSH term

Table 1: MeSH vs Keywords (Sayre 2013, slide 20)



Sayre, F. 2013, Advanced Medline, PowerPoint, viewed 8 August 2016, <http://www.slideshare.net/fdsayre/advanced-medline-finalv4>.