Controlled vocabulary provides a consistent and precise way to retrieve information when different words are used for the same concept or when the same language is used for different concepts. It accounts for spelling variations (e.g., British vs. American English), plurals, acronyms, and more. Articles are indexed with controlled vocabulary by indexers who read the articles and assign the appropriate headings.
Controlled vocabulary is organized in an hierarchical structure. When using controlled vocabulary in your search strategy, it is important to select the most specific term available for your concept.
Note that each database has their own controlled vocabulary and the terms and syntax will differ between each version. The following are a selection of controlled vocabularies from popular databases and some of options for various "ethics" terms.
*Best practice is to use Controlled Vocabulary and Keywords together!
*Cochrane Library also recognizes MeSH
"Duty to Warn"
"Decision Making, Ethical"
"Codes of Ethics"
*APA Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms can be found in the blue menu bar at the very top of the page when in PsycINFO.
"Duty to Protect"
"Duty to Warn"
Keywords are all of the ways to say the same thing. They are valuable when there is no controlled vocabulary for your search term and they catch new articles that have not been indexed with controlled vocabulary. Keywords consist of synonyms, acronyms, free text, natural language, user-selected terms, professional lingo, alternate spellings, etc. When searching with keywords, the words must appear in the title, abstract, or other text field in the citation record.
*Best practices is to use controlled vocabulary and keywords together!
Here is a list of some common keywords in an ethics concept:
*Note that you can add additional terms in front of ethics to be more specific in your search as well: "genetic ethics" OR "reproductive ethics" OR "professional ethics", etc.
When searching databases, take time to design your search strategy thoroughly.
Focus on one concept at a time; list your main idea for concept #1 along with synonyms, abbreviations, and alternate spellings. Everything in Concept 1 should use the OR boolean. Do the same thing for your other concepts.
Use the AND boolean to combine your concepts together.
Using a Venn Diagram can be useful in your search strategy design:
Written out, our search would look like the following:
(Ethic* OR bioethic* OR moral*) AND (Covid19 OR "Covid 19" OR "SARS-CoV2" OR "SARS-CoV-2" OR "2019 nCoV")
Additional searching tips:
* (asterisk) - Most databases recognize this as a truncation tool. Use it to truncate your word and search a variation of the words. For example: vaccin* will search for vaccination, vaccinations, vaccinated, vaccinate, etc. In PubMed, there are four rules you must follow when using the asterisk (*):
" " (quotations) - Most databases will search your words as a phrase when they are placed in quotation marks. For example, a database will search for the words animal and research together when they are placed in quotations, like this "animal research". If you search for animal research without the quotation marks, the database will search for the words animal and research, but they won't, necessarily, be next to each other. In other words, the paper you find may be about animals in one paragraph and research [of any kind] in another paragraph.
Here's a video from B.D. Owens Library (Northwest Missouri State University) to help explain Boolean operators, asterisks, and quotation marks:
Literature databases index citations provided by publishers. The publishers assign each part of a citation to a different field in the database (e.g., authors, journal name, date published, abstract, title, etc.) When searching a literature database, you can increase the precision of your search by dictating which part of the citation should be searched with a particular keyword.
In PubMed, you can search with field tags in two different ways.
2. You can add field tags to each of your keywords in your strategy by typing the field-specific tag. A list of all field tags can be found in the following locations:
CINAHL - Searchable Fields
PsycINFO - Searchable Fields
Web of Science - Advanced Search Field Tags
Here are some popular field tags:
|Field Tags||PubMed||CINAHL/PsycINFO||Web of Science|
|Title & Abstract||keyword[tiab]||TI (keyword) OR AB (keyword)||TS=(keyword)|
USD Example: Kozmenko V[au]
AU (LastName FirstInitial)
USD Example: AU (Kozmenko V)
AU=(LastName First Initial)
USD Example: AU=(Kozmenko V)
|Affiliation/Author Address||"University of South Dakota"[ad]||AF "University of South Dakota"||AD=("University of South Dakota")|