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How to Conduct a Literature Search

Finding the best evidence in 3 steps

Finding the Best Evidence in 3 Steps

Before you begin your search you’ll need a searchable question. One that is clear, concise, and represents what it is you want to know.

In this section, you'll:
  • Recognize the value of asking a searchable question
  • Identify common types of questions (background/foreground)
  • Describe different frameworks that help to identify key concepts within your research topic
  • Construct a searchable question using a standard framework (e.g. PICO, SPICE, SPIDER)

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Once you have a question, you'll need to decide where to start your search. Your question topic and the type of evidence required will guide your selection. Our popular resources and subject guides are great places to start.

In this section, you'll
  • Recognize that evidence varies in quality (e.g. merit, relevance, validity)
  • Understand that different types of literature are acquired from a range of sources.
  • Identify sources of evidence that are appropriate to your question topic

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Once you have a question and have decided on where you'll begin your search, you'll then need to break your question down into concepts and develop a search strategy. Use basic strategies to get started with some quick searches and build on these to construct more advanced search strategies to maximize your searching effectiveness.

In this section, you'll
  • Learn how to conduct a quick and efficient search
  • Construct a search strategy using keywords, synonyms and Boolean logic
  • Carry out your search strategy in a relevant database
  • Complete an advanced search using MeSH terms and Keywords

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