2. Journal databases are used to search for information - mainly journals articles, but also conference
papers, reports, book chapters, Standards, Systematic Reviews etc. – within the literature of a specific
This guide covers how to access and search journal databases that are useful for sports and exercise
science students, in particular those provided by EBSCO which include:
• APA PsycInfo/PsycArticles: Contains citations and summaries of journal articles, book chapters,
books and dissertations for psychology. Many of the items are available full text in PsycArticles.
• Medline: Finds articles from the whole range of medical literature, covering more than 4,800
journals. Links to full text.
• SPORTDiscus: The most comprehensive journal database for your subject area covering all
aspects of sports, fitness, exercise and medicine including journal and magazine articles, books,
book chapters, conference papers (proceedings) and dissertations. Contains full text.
All EBSCO databases have the same search interface and you can search them all at the same time.
Advice in using the following journal databases is also included at the end of this guide:
• PubMed: Covers the same content as Medline, plus some additional life science journals and
journal articles which have not yet been included in Medline.
3. Access journal databases
Access via myUniHub > MyStudy > MyLibrary > Databases
Choose the journal database that
you want from the alphabetical
list e.g. SPORTDiscus or choose
‘Sports and Exercise Sciences’
from the drop-down menu for a
list of relevant subject specific
5. Searching using your keywords
Search for keywords one at a time so
that you can see which words/terms
are good and which ones are not so
good or return unexpected/irrelevant
results. This is also useful when first
scoping out keywords for a
Systematic Review. See later slides.
Your individual keywords are
displayed and you can see the
number of results for each keyword.
Your ‘good’ keywords can now be
combined either in one search or in
smaller searches for the sub-parts of
your topic. This enables you to take
control of your search.
TIP: The words you use are important – identify keywords (search terms) from things you read, as
well as thinking about similar words (synonyms) e.g. exercise, physical activity or physical fitness.
Also consider different spellings, international variations, and professional/common terminology etc.
6. Combing keywords with OR
Select the keywords you wish to combine. Use OR
to combine similar terms (synonyms). The example
here is football OR soccer. Combining them
together using OR increases the number of results
because a broader range of keywords is searched.
TIP: Use * to truncate your keywords i.e. find variations of the same word. E.g.
Football* will search for football, footballer, footballers, footballing etc. See Slide 13
for other search tips.
A new set of search results is created in
this case S4 which is a combination of
‘soccer’ (S1) and ‘football’ (S2).
7. Combing keywords with AND
Use AND to combine keywords. This will
make your search results more specific
by narrowing down your search. In this
example the search results for
‘plyometrics’ (S3) are combined with S4
(‘soccer’ OR ‘football’) using AND which
makes the search more focussed.
8. This example search can be
replicated in a different journal
database from another supplier
such as PubMed. See later slides
on how to search PubMed.
When carrying out a Systematic
Review, it is important to
replicate, as far as possible, the
same search in each database
that you use.
Enter your search like this: Search for
similar/alternative terms on one line of the
search box using OR. Then combine with
another string of words on a different line
This is how Systematic Review search
strategies are usually reported when
published. The different concepts within
the search can be easily identified and
replicated, or repeated if updating your
9. Systematic Reviews continued…
Search results are the
same whether the
search is performed as
described earlier in
this guide (i.e. search
for each word
individually and then
combine) or as
described on the
previous slide for
However the latter
method enables you to
replicate your search
more easily in other
10. If you have too many search
results, you can refine your
search by restricting your
search to words found in the
Abstract only rather than in All
Text. An abstract is a brief
summary of the content of the
Use the refining tools to limit
your search in a variety of
other ways incl. by Publication
Date, Subject or by Peer
Reviewed articles only.
Peer reviewed means that the information published (e.g. a journal article) has been reviewed by other
academic experts for the quality of the research and adherence to the editorial standards of the journal it
has been published in. Limiting by peer reviewed will ensure you find only the best quality information.
Limiting your search by
Linked Full Text is not
recommended as the journal
may be available via other
MDX subscriptions. Just click
on ‘Check for full text at MDX’
to see if we have it.
11. Simultaneous searching
SPORTDiscus, Medline and APA PsycINFO are all published by the same company
(EBSCO) and it is possible to search the 3 databases simultaneously. There may be
a loss of some functionality doing this, but you can save time by searching more than
one database at a time.
To do this: Click on ‘Choose Databases’,
select the journal databases you want to
search and click ‘OK’.
12. Read through your results carefully
Read the abstract to get a summary of the article and to decide if it is what you
require. Use the links to access the full text, and if not available check Library
Search for the journal as we may hold it in print. Items not available through
Middlesex University can be ordered by Inter Library Loan from the British
13. Improving your search
For variations on the same word:
Anthropometr* instead of Anthropometry OR Anthropometric
Weightlift* instead of Weightlifter OR Weightlifting
Powerlift* instead of Powerlifter OR Powerlifting
To search for keywords as a phrase (word x followed by word y):
“Body composition” instead of Body Composition
“Anthropometric Dimensions” instead of Anthropometric Dimensions
Think about hyphenation/spacing:
Weight-lift* OR Power-lift* OR “Weight lift*” OR “Power lift*” as well as Weightlift* OR Powerlift*
The following search tips could be used to enhance the example searches used in
More search tip are available: https://libguides.mdx.ac.uk/SES/SearchTips
15. Searching PubMed
Go to PubMed
search terms in to the
search box using OR and
click on ‘Add’. Your
Search Query will now
appear in the Query Box
where it can be edited.
You can then add additional search terms in to the
search box and add to the query box using ‘AND’.
Click on ‘Search’ when you have added all of your
16. Searching PubMed continued…
Refine your initial search by
limiting it to specific fields
such as Title/Abstract rather
than the default All Fields.
Control how you combine
your search terms from
the drop-down menu.
Once you have carried
out a search, you can
further limit it in various
ways including by
Publication Date, Article
Type etc. Click on
‘Additional Filters’ for
further options such as
Subject and Language