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ProQuest Public Health: Guides, Tutorials, and Tips

Public health information and research ranging in scope from the social sciences, biological sciences and economic aspects of health.

Helpful Guides

 Key points from this guide are:

  • ProQuest ignores punctuation characters — such as periods, commas, and colons — in your search terms
  • Stop words: When processing your search, some search engines ignore so-called 'stop words' — like articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (from, with, of). These engines will only search for those words if you somehow flag or mark them in your search, often by enclosing them in parentheses.
  • Brackets and parentheses are used to build 'nested' queries. For example: cow AND (dog OR cat). If you use them with any other intent, your search is unlikely to retrieve what you expected.
  • Phrase searching - look for phrases by enclosing them in quotation marks, for example, "healthy eating".
  • Limit your search - select available limiter check boxes such as Peer-reviewed to focus your search.

Using a Thesaurus With Your Search

Click the Thesaurus link located above and to the right of the Advanced Search or Command Line Search forms. A new browser window opens, providing a list of the thesauri titles available for your currently selected databases. You can browse/search the ProQuest Thesaurus as well as search using MeSH.  These are two different vocabularies produced by two different organizations - so they same concept may represented by different terms.



By adding thesaurus terms to your search, you can broaden or narrow your search, or find related words to further explore your subject of interest. You can also combine terms you find in the thesaurus with your current Advanced or Command Line search.

  1. Select one or more terms in the thesaurus. The number of selected terms displays and updates automatically in a box at the lower left of the Thesaurus window. Click the View link at any time to see your current list of selected terms.
  2. If you’ve selected more than one term, specify one of the following operators to join your terms together:
    OR (the default)
  3. Click Add to search. Your terms are inserted into the search box where your cursor resides and the Thesaurus window closes.
  4. With your terms added to the search form, use an operator to join the terms to the rest of your search.

Important to know — With a particular thesaurus open in the Thesaurus window, you can click this link in the dark blue bar at the top of the window to open a different thesaurus: Select another thesaurus.

Thesaurus tools

For any term you find in the thesaurus, you might see one or more of the following (or similar) bolded words and phrases:

  • Use terms/Use term for — synonymous concepts pointing you to authorized terms.
  • Use instead — these terms are the preferred thesaurus terms for your search.
  • Narrower terms — more restrictive terms associated with a subset of records.
  • Broader terms — less restrictive terms associated with a larger set of records.
  • Related terms — similar terms suggested for use with your search.
  • Scope notes — Scope notes contain information about the use of a subject heading. The scope note may contain a definition of the subject, the year the subject term came into use, and other important information.

ProQuest Databases

ProQuest is a vendor that owns two different products licensed by the library - the Public Health database and the Health Management database.  Because of this, you can search both citation databases simultaneously.  Depending on your research topic, it may be helpful to combine these separate indexing tools. 

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