Tuesday, 27 January 2015

UHL Clinical Librarian, Sarah Sutton, is interested in hearing other views on the issue of using 'NOT' and posed the following question:  

Dear All

I am searching in Ovid as I expect to find thousands of results and this is my search to exclude purely children studies, line 53 is the results of my topic search and I am trying to limit to adult studies only. I realise this will mean I am limiting my results to articles tagged as being about adults.

Can you all think of any other reason  I shouldn’t do it?

Best wishes


exp Child/

exp Adult/

54 not (54 and 55)

53 not 56

Thanks to Judy Wright for her incredibly helpful response below:

Dear Sarah,

I do a very similar search when trying to limit results to adults.  I think the safest way is to remove the purely child studies as you have done. The exploded Child MeSH includes the heading ‘Child, Preschool’ but doesn’t include Adolescent/ or Infant/ MeSH headings. If you want to include these age groups in your child search you could do the following

1         [result of topic search]
2         (exp Child/ OR Adolescent/ OR exp Infant/) NOT exp Adult/))
3         1 NOT 2

This would retrieve the topic search but with any purely child or infant or adolescent studies removed.

This assumes the indexing is 100% accurate for those records that have a child heading attached. I guess there is always a chance that an indexer may assign the headings child/ and adolescent/ but not adult/ by mistake to a study of participants ranging from say 10 – 20. I’m not aware of any research to show this is a problem – but would be interested to hear if anyone has looked closely into this.

Best wishes

Judy Wright
Senior Information Specialist

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