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FSN 603: Nutrient Changes in the Food System: Database Search Tips

Find Articles—Recommended Databases

Start by knowing where to search! Here are some good databases to get started in:

Go to the general Food Science and Nutrition Guide for more database recommendations.

Generate a List of Keywords

  • Break your topic down into key words and phrases (no more than three words long)
  • Look for words that relate to your topic: effected populations and settings or variations. If you're not familiar with your topic, try a simple Google Search before diving into the databases. Write down keywords as you search that you can use to find more reputable sources in the databases.
  • Write out synonyms or related terms: vitamin c as well as ascorbic acid
  • Try alternative spelling: sulphur as well as sulfur
  • Truncate (use a wildcard) to get variations on a word: nutri* to find nutrition, nutritional, nutrient...

ANDs and ORs

Searching in databases means organizing your keywords with Boolean operators: AND, OR, and NOT

Use AND for more specific results
nutrition AND growth

Your results will include BOTH terms.

  AND narrows a search, finding only results containing both terms.


Use OR to broaden a search with related terms
nutrition OR growth

Your results will include EITHER term.

  OR expands a search, finding       results containing either or both terms.


Mix and match: (dairy OR milk OR cheese) AND nutri*

Image credit: "Logic Gates.svg" by HereToHelp, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, is available via Wikimedia Commons. Nancy R. Curtis cropped images from original graphic, and modified colors to accommodate color vision disabilities.


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Lindsay Decker
Reference Services
Fogler Library
University of Maine

Search Strategies

It's easy to find your self doing the same search over and over again if you aren't keeping track of your searches. You'll find some templates for keeping a record of your keywords and database searches here:

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