Master of Clinical Exercise Science and Rehabilitation: Overview

On this page

On this page

This page provides information on getting started on your research and keyword searching strategies.

About this guide

This guide provides resources for your research and literature reviews. 

Steps for searching the literature 

  1. The question or topic - understand the research topic or question.
  2. Define your terms – examine your subject area and think about the keywords you will use for your research. Identify the key concepts from your topic. Look for synonyms, alternate spellings and international variations for your subject(s). Be aware databases may use different terms to describe the same concept. It is recommended to use the database thesauri (list of subject terms) to identify keywords. You can download this 'Planning your Search' document and use it to develop a search as you look for library resources.
  3. Combine your search terms using Boolean operators AND; OR; NOT, for example:
    • sport AND integrity
    • athlete OR player OR sportsman OR sportswoman
  4. Database searching - run your search in a library database. The key databases for Sport and Exercise Science literature are listed under the Databases and journals section. Together with using Boolean operators to combine your search, enhance your database searching using truncation, wildcard, connectors, phrases and proximity database features. Refer to the section on keyword search strategies or click on the link to look at search tips across the different platforms and databases. (Note: SPORTDiscus is available on the EBSCOhost platform). 
  5. Review your search results - does your search retrieve articles relevant to your topic? If not, check that you have used Boolean operators correctly.
    • Can you broaden your search by adding alternative terms (using OR)? You may need to go back to step 2 and review your search terms.
    • If relevant results are displayed, do you have too many results? Can you apply any limits to your search? (Tip: narrow your search by year, content type). Can you add additional search terms (using AND) to further narrow your search?
  6. Manage your search - save materials such as article PDFs into a document library and/or download the citation information using reference management tools such as Endnote or Mendeley.

Keyword search strategies

Keyword search strategies

You will need to use a variety of keywords to ensure you cover all aspects of the topic and apply the following strategies to combine them

  • using the Boolean logic (AND OR & NOT), for example, mental fatigue AND endurance sport AND performance
  • think of possible synonyms and related words or phrases, for example, strength training OR resistance training
  • search exact phrases by enclosing the phrase in quotes, for example, “extreme sport” or “gender inequity”
  • find a term with variant spelling  by using a hash (#), for example, entering  behavio#r will find both behavior and behaviour
  • find a term with various endings by using as a truncation symbol represented by an asterisk (*), for example, inequit* (will retrieve inequity, inequities, inequitable)
  • group terms together by placing them in parentheses, for example, (sports injuries) AND (mental health OR well-being)

View the videos in this guide to learn how to search for books, eBooks and journal articles available at  Victoria University Library.

Dictionaries & encyclopedias

Dictionaries and encyclopedias are a good starting point when researching a topic as they provide definitions, explanations or general overviews. Below are links to some of the online reference resources.

Note, you can right-click on the title and select the "open link in new tab' option to view the reference book in a separate tab.

Support for researchers

Victoria University and the VU Library provides a wide range of support services for researchers.

Find out more at:

The Researcher Development Program provides a wide range of training including classes on preparing a literature review.


Research Ambassadors offer peer-researcher support and training programs. 

Reference management tools

EndNote is a reference management tool that helps you to save and manage bibliographic references. 

Mendeley is a free online referencing system that you can use on the web and on your desktop. You can create your own fully searchable reference library, cite as you write and read and annotate your PDFs.