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Health Postgraduate Introductory Library Modules: Module 2 - Introduction to basic topic searching

Health Postgraduate Library Modules 

Introduction to Searching Skills

Module 2 - Basic Topic Searching

This module is divided into 4 sections


       Prepare                                    How to begin and plan your search strategy.


       Run Run icon                                          How to put your search strategy to work. 


       Review review icon & Revise Revise icon          Not getting the results? Adjust your search strategy.                               


       Access                                       How to get into those useful resources.

Prepare 2

Research/study always means you will have topics that you need to know more about.

Alfie smiling 

Alfie has enrolled in a new unit and one of the topics she has to look at is 'Sugar Disease'. This is not an area that Alfie is familiar with but there are some simple steps she can take to understand the topic better. All of which helps with searching!


book open with a cup of tea 

TIP: Books, especially textbooks and encyclopedias, are a useful source of background information, and can be used to help us gain a broader understanding of a topic.





Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Run 2


If, like Alfie, you have a topic that you need to know more about, first try typing your topic into the Library search box.




Watch this video to learn about searching for topic resources within the library. 



Open a new browser window, separate to this one. Go to the Library webpage

(copy and paste this url if you need to:

We're running our search through Library search as it provides more relevant and authoritative results.

Practice searching the phrase "sugar disease" in the Library search box.

screenshot of sugar disease with quotation marks

Look at your results.

The quotation marks tell the search engine to keep words together as a phrase.

Try searching sugar disease without the quotation marks on either side.
screenshot of sugar disease without quotation marks

What differences do you notice in the search results?

Select the correct answers below.

Review  & Revise  2


Alfie confusedAlfie - "I haven't found very many articles on my topic!!! What do I do?"

Try adding another similar word, for example, adding the phrase "type 2 diabetes" to your search.

TIP: you may have noticed that when you searched for "sugar disease" in Library search some of the results displayed the term type 2 diabetes.

Use the word 'or' to search for similar words / phrases and type them in the same search box.
type in or "type 2 diabetes" in the search box


Some other things to check are: 

  • spelling.
  • have you added your double quote marks at both ends of the phrase.
  • have you added spaces around your words.
  • made sure there are no spaces between double quote marks and the letters.



Alfie unhappyAlfie - "I've found too many results. What do I do?"

After typing in "sugar disease" or "type 2 diabetes" into the Library search box there are over five hundred, thousand results, these are too many to go through.

You can add limiters such as publication date or peer reviewed to get fewer search results.  

To get the most current information try limiting your search to the last 5 years. 


 Change the years on the Publication Date limit option to 2013 to 2018

library search limit publication date to 2013 to 2018

There are still too many so maybe try limiting to peer reviewed.

If an article has been peer reviewed it means that the article has been reviewed by experts in the subject area before being published in the journal. 

Selecting thScholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals optiowill limit to articles that have been through this process.

screenshot of scholarly (peer reviewed) journals option


Limiting by scholarly (peer reviewed) journals and publication date will reduce your results but there may still be too many for you to work with.

It’s time to revise your search strategy!

Still too many articles? 

Try adding more search terms. For example, you may want to find information about diabetes in Australia. 
Select the Advanced Search option and type the word Australia in the second search box and select Search.

Use the word 'AND' to find all of the search terms.

screenshot of Australia in second search box

See the difference in results; you have already pruned your results to a few thousand by adding AND with another search term.


Alfie Alfie is now more confident about what to do if she gets too few or too many results.

Access 2

The search worked well. I've found some great articles but how do I get the full text?

The full text is the complete article and not just an abstract or summary of the article. It provides you with all of the information about the study or research.

  •  Look at your results list. You may notice that some have an HTML Full Text or PDF Full Text option. The HTML full text option is just the text of the article displayed on the page and is good for reading online. The PDF full text option is the copy of the article taken from the journal and is displayed in the same format as the original article and is the best option for printing or downloading and reading later. 

HTML Full Text PDF Full Text links

  •  Choose the option that best suits you.


  • You can now send a copy to yourself by clicking the Email icon (on the right of the screen). This is useful for keeping track of the article.
    screenshot of email icon on right side of screen

  • Type in an email address (it doesn't have to be your Deakin one) and select Send.

email option

When it arrives in your inbox the HTML text will appear in the body of your email and the PDF will be sent as a separate attachment.


  • Full text isn't available? Don’t forget that you can select the FIND IT @ DEAKIN button.
    Find it @ Deakin
    Scroll down to the Get full text options and then follow the full text link.

TIP: Sometimes there is more than one full text link. Always start with the first link and if it doesn't work try the others.

Find it @ Deakin image with Get full text options

Make sure you either email or download a copy of the article – the links at the top of the page are not permanent and you can’t navigate back to them by bookmarking.

Success! You have completed Module 2. You should now be confident in how to search for information resources on a topic. 

image of Alfie being happy

How did you go? 


Remember you can always go back over the information in this module or move to another module whenever you like.          

         Module 1 Finding a known itemModule 2 Basic topic searching Module 3 Advanced topic searching

      Still have questions? Email the Health Liaison Librarians at