Nutrition Research Methods

Recommended resources to support the literature review assignment in NUTR 4103/5103.

Identify Keywords


  • Keywords are the terms typed into search boxes to find research on a topic.
  • We recommend developing a list of essential concepts before beginning your search.
  • Use single words or simple phrases.
  • Collect additional keywords as you conduct your search. 
  • Utilize a thesaurus and note the Subjects and MESH Headings provided in the databases.


  • Synonyms and interchangeable terms are important to consider when developing a list of keywords.
  • Consider including acronyms and abbreviations as well as the full phrase or formal title of the concept you are searching for:
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC
    • coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary heart disease (CHD) or heart disease
    • noncommunicable diseases or non-communicable diseases or NDCs
    • World Health Organization or WHO

Use Keywords

Combining Keywords

Library resources include options to combine keywords using: AND, OR, & NOT. You can type them in as shown in the search examples below. These Boolean operators may also appear by default, with multiple search boxes available for combining terms. You may need to select Advanced Search to access this feature.

  • AND: used to limit a search by requiring the presence of two or more terms/phrases in the search results
  • OR: used to broaden a search while staying on topic by incorporating synonyms or interchangeable terms/phrases
  • NOT: used to exclude an extraneous or irrelevant terms/phrases from the search results

Simple Phrases

  • Use quotation marks to search for a phrase, and prompts the database to return results with the words searched for in the specified sequence.
  • Keep phrases brief; typically 2 - 4 words.

Search Examples

These examples are starting points, or simple searches that utilize core research concepts. They would likely result in hundreds or thousands of search results that you could narrow using the limiting options in the database:

  • stroke AND diet
  • cancer AND malnutrition
  • malignancy OR metastasis
  • diabetes NOT gestational
  • ("heart disease" OR "cardiovascular disease") AND (diet OR food)

Using OneSearch

OneSearch includes our physical library holdings, as well as ebooks and electronic journal and magazine subscriptions. It is one way to search across multiple library resources and subscriptions through a single search.

This brief video provides an overview and search tips.