Once you have a well-defined question, the next step is to identify the keywords and phrases that are the most important from your question.
For example, in this question:
In adults suffering sleep bruxism, are splints a beneficial treatment?
The keywords are sleep bruxism, splints, adults.
It is important to brainstorm synonyms and related terms because not all of the relevant literature will use exactly the same keyword.
You will need to think about:
You may plan your search using this Search Strategy Planner:
Watch Keywords vs Subject Headings (YouTube, 3m30s) to learn the difference between keywords and subject headings:
Once you have some search terms planned out, you are ready to build a search string now!
Think about how you will use your keywords and phrases to create a search. For instance, you might use a combination of:
For example, your search string might look like:
("sleep bruxism” OR “teeth grinding”) AND splint* AND adult*
Knowing where to search is just as important as knowing how to search.
Watch How to search PubMed in a systematic way (YouTube, 7m36s) to learn how to systematically search PubMed, including great tips on search planning:
Searching is an iterative process. You might need to revise your search strategy several times to create a best strategy. Check these quick ways to improve your search.
If you have too many results you may want to:
If you have too few results you may want to: