Use your search string in a database!

Once you've chosen a database to search, enter your search string into the database search bar and see how many results you'll find. This can be very disappointing the first time or yield very many results. Below we give you some tips to adjust that.

Do you want personal help? Click on 'Contact & Support' in the top menu to find out when the walk-in hour is, or how you can reach the information specialists.



Suppose you want to search in PubMed, and you have already correctly combined the search terms in step 2, then you can enter the search string in PubMed or in the bar on the homepage or on the Advanced page. 



How do I increase/decrease the number of results

Increase or decrease the number of search results.

Nobody has the time to scan hundreds or thousands of search results on relevance. Therefore it is important to be able to decrease the number of search results without throwing relevant literature out of the results.

Tip! What to do when you have too many results:

  • Use Advanced search instead of the basic search bar, to be able to use more filters
  • Use the Boolean operator AND and think critically before adding the OR operator (which broadens your search). 
  • Limit the search results by specifying you want to find the term in the Title field of articles, instead of searching in all the available fields of articles. 
  • Limit the search to recent publication by filtering on publication date (for instance published in the last 5 year).


It's frustrating to not find many or any search results. Keep in mind that you might not have the most relevant database for your topic. 

Tip! What to do if you don't find (enough) search results?

  • Use Advanced search instead of the Basic search bar.
  • Search in all available search fields (don't specify the search term to be in the Title of an article) 
  • Search, if possible through the full text version of articles.
  • Use synonyms, translations, plural forms, and combine these with the OR operator.
  • Use Related and Broader Terms and combine these with the OR operator.

Handy Links

Here are some interesting links and other Library Guides for you to check out. The PubMed Library Guide is currently only available in Dutch