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Systematic searching: 5. Targeting the search

Targeting the search

When performing searches, it is possible to choose in which fields the search terms must be found in. The most commonly used fields are Title (TI), Abstract (AB) and Subject Headings (SU). Usually there is a drop-down menu next to the search box where you can choose the targeted field. These focusing options are always database-specific and should be checked in the database's own guidelines. You can only use these drop-down menus if you have not included any database-specific subject headings in your search strings. 

In addition, in some databases you can target your keywords to certain fields using Field tags. Field tags are are always database-specific and should be checked in the database's own guidelines.

Ways to target your search:

  • In Medline/PubMed, tagging keywords with the field code [tw] (Text Words) will search for those words from several fields that contain text, but not author affiliation data, author names or journal names. This type of targeting is generally suitable for review searches. MeSH subject headings, on the other hand, are tagged with the field code [Mesh] in Medline/PubMed. For more information on field codes and how to use them efficiently, please consult the Medline (PubMed) guide
  • In CINAHL, keywords are by default targeted to titles, abstracts and subject headings. This  is generally suitable for review searches. CINAHL subject headings are identified by a field code (MH).
  • In Scopus, keywords are by default targeted to titles, abstracts and subject headings. This targeting is generally suitable for review searches. 

Nursing students' hand hygiene skills

Keywords with field codes and MeSH subject headings, for Medline/PubMed. 

Concept 1 Concept 2 Concept 3
student nurses[tw] handwashing[tw] competence[tw]
nursing students[tw] hand washing[tw] skills[tw]
nursing pupils[tw] hand hygiene[tw] knowledge[tw]
pupil nurses[tw] hand sanitation[tw] know-how[tw]
nursing education[tw] hand sanitization[tw] knowhow[tw]
"Students, Nursing"[Mesh] hand disinfection[tw] "Professional Competence"[Mesh]
"Education, Nursing"[Mesh] hand cleansing[tw] "Mental Competency"[Mesh]
hand cleaning[tw] "Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice"[Mesh]
surgical scrubbing[tw]
"Hand Hygiene"[Mesh]

Nursing students' hand hygiene skills

Keywords with field codes and CINAHL headings, for CINAHL

Käsite 1 Käsite 2 Käsite 3
student nurses handwashing competence
nursing students hand washing skills
nursing pupils hand hygiene knowledge
pupil nurses hand sanitation know-how
nursing education  hand sanitization knowhow
(MH "Students, Nursing+") hand disinfection (MH "Professional Competence+")
(MH "Education, Nursing+") hand cleansing (MH "Clinical Competence+")
hand cleaning (MH "Student Knowledge")
surgical scrubbing (MH "Nursing Knowledge")
(MH "Handwashing")
(MH "Surgical Scrubbing")