Term Refinement in Literature Search

A literature search is a systematic search through existing data in an organized way to determine an extensive range of quality references to a specific subject.


Literature searches serve many functions for a medical manufacturer, including obtaining data necessary to create evidence-based recommendations and design, data regarding the device technology’s effectiveness, and risk assessments.


A thorough literature review also aims at formulating a scientific question through reviewing available literature and seeking gaps still accessible for future research.


Literature review essentially maps the how and which of the medical device development and production, including giving exact clinical measurements one needs to adhere to.


Hence, any medical manufacturer willing to put effort behind their devices usually focuses on quality literature review. But unfortunately, many times, though the intention is there, the execution isn’t as effective as one would hope.


The ideal literature search


The ideal literature search


Creating a thorough literature review used to take months: when every published journal wasn’t on the internet. Now, the times have changed, and the work has become easier: but only slightly. There are still hundreds or thousands of journals to go through: just now on computer screens instead of printed pages.


The ideal literature search will be thorough yet specific. The search should include all types of information sources, including books, journals, and articles published electronically. In addition, it should have the latest data available regarding the device technology, its effectiveness, and the observed adverse effects.


A literature search should point you to all the data available to date to best develop and research the medical device or product you are working on.


As is the case for any elaborate work, having a strategy is the first step to achieving the best results. A literature review is the same.


A search strategy is an organized set of steps that you follow when searching for information in the literature. A search strategy is a fundamental part of the research. This is because the information you find online is only as good as the search terms you use to find them.


So, the more refined your search strategy is, the less time you will need to find further research papers more suited to your requirements.


The most comprehensive literature searches are often performed by professionals specializing in the field. However, if you would like to try your own hands at writing a literature review, some tricks will save you a lot of time finding the best scholarly articles


What exactly is term refinement?


What exactly is term refinement


Simply put, term refinement is a search strategy in which the user’s keyword query is modified to match a specific set of terms based on the results returned by a search engine.

Term refinement is a search strategy in which the user’s keyword query is modified to match a specific set of terms based on the results returned by a search engine.


When you type in a word or phrase and hit enter or click “search,” the search engine looks across all of the documents within that database and returns a list of possible matches. The purpose of a term search is to find sources that contain specific keywords or phrases. Therefore, the more specific your search, the more relevant your results will be.


For example, if a user is interested in learning more about the topic of “term refinement”, that user could enter “term refinement” as a query into Google or Bing (or another search engine) and then refine their results by adding additional terms such as “library science”, “information retrieval”, and/or other relevant keywords. This is one way of doing it; there are multiple other ways of refining your search.


Whichever method you choose to go for, term refinement is a crucial step in narrowing down your literature search. The results will show only those documents that include all of the terms specified in the query.


Tips and tricks for refining your search terms


Tips and tricks for refining your search terms


  • In order to use term refinement in literature search effectively, it is important that understand the basics of the medical device technology before starting your literature review. If you are not familiar with the meaning and related topics of the tech you are searching for, missing several keywords is only natural. It can be challenging to find relevant articles because there may not be enough information available on certain topics or issues within an article.
  • Use a wide variety of keywords in different combinations. This is important because different databases will produce different results for the same keyword, so it’s best to use as many different terms as possible. For example, if you’re researching for ‘teaching’, using only one or two keywords will mean that you miss out on lots of relevant material.
  • For each database, you can search each team independently and in a phrase or cluster. You can also determine whether you want articles with several keywords or just having one would do. When you enter more than one word and connect them by an “and”, it is called Boolean logic (or AND logic). This means that when you search for two words together, all results must contain both words for them to appear in your results list. Similarly, if you want to use three words together (AND logic), all three words must appear in all results for them to appear in your results list. On the other hand, if you only want one of these words in each result – then OR logic is needed, for example, cancer OR cancer cell growth reduction OR cancer cell RNA modification.
  • Explore several databases if you’re not finding what you need in one place – there’s no point in wasting time reading through hundreds of articles if none of them is relevant!
  • Identify potential sources which would otherwise be missed by focusing on the subject area rather than the specific topic (e.g., ‘learning’ rather than ‘students at risk’).
  • Add some limits to get more specific results. For example, some databases will allow you to limit time (by years); others will let you choose the type (published, thesis, etc.). For example, you may want to restrict your results to a specific date range or language. You can do this by clicking on ‘Refine’ or ‘Filters’ at the top of the screen and then ticking whichever options apply to your search. You can also use these tools to restrict your searches by geographic location or issue number.
  • The next step is refining your search subject headings. This is where you narrow down what you’re looking for so that it matches with only one topic area, not several at once.
  • Find articles that have been cited. You should be able to add this limit in most databases. Cited literature means you can use that paper to find other similar articles.
  • Use variant endings to your search words. For example, if you are searching for “neonatal disorders” but do not find anything relevant, try searching with one or more of these endings: “neonatal dis*,” “neonatal disorders+*” and “neonatal disorder?” The asterisk (*) is a wildcard, meaning that any letter or number can replace it. Thus it will match both singular and plural forms of words as well as words that have letters replaced by numbers.


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