Bachelor of Applied Movement Sciences & Master of Physiotherapy: Databases & journals

What are Scholarly or Academic Journals and Databases?

When an article is published in a peer-reviewed or refereed journal, it indicates that that article has been through a formal review process. It has been read by experts in the subject field before being accepted for publication.This ensures the information in the article is well-researched, and contributes to the knowledge of the subject area. Watch the video below for more information. 

How can you tell if a journal is peer reviewed?


UlrichsWeb is the authoritative source to go to if you want to find out if a journal is peer reviewed or not.
In UlrichsWeb, type in your journal title. Look at the 'Basic Description' for the journal. One of the categories in the 'Basic Description' is Refereed: Yes or No. In this context Refereed is the same as Peer Reviewed.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar can provide a starting point  to  search for scholarly literature. 

Many VU library databases can also be searched through Google Scholar. Fulltext journal articles and research papers can be retrieved by clicking on the "Find Fulltext@VU Library" link when it appears to the right of your search results.  This will happen automatically while on-campus but may need to be set up as "Library Links" under Scholar Settings to work from off-site.

Try entering your own search terms in the Google Scholar box below.

Google Scholar Search

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 tems) to identify keywords. In the CINAHL database look up key terms in CINAHL headings to identify terms used to describe your topic in the database (see video below). In PubMEd and Medline search the MESH list of subject headings to help you identify search terms (see video below). Use a combination of keywords and CINAHL or MESH terms in your search.
  3. Combine your search terms using Boolean operators AND; OR; NOT
  4. Database searching   Run your search in a library database. The key databases for physiotherapy literature are listed below.
  5. Review your 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 yes, do you have too many results? Can you apply any limits to your search? Can you add additional search terms (using AND) to further narrow your search?

Key databases

Using database subject headings (CINAHL & MESH)

The videos below demonstrate how to use database subject heading lists to identify search terms and build a search strategy.