2 Learning outcomesUnderstand the steps involved in a literature search.Carry out a literature search of a topic in the reader’s area of research/practice interest.Understand how to locate the relevant literature for a research question/topic.
3 What is a literature search? It aims to identify the most relevantresources related to a topic that:help to provide background information about a topicgives information about research already conducted about a topicis up to date.
4 Steps in a literature search Focus on your question.Decide on the most appropriate sources.Perform a scoping search by:dividing your search into a series of conceptsthinking of alternative terms for each conceptsearching for each concept separatelycombining concepts using Boolean logiclimiting your search.Revise your search, as necessary, and replicate in other sources.
5 Creating a set of search terms Be exact about what you a looking for and break down into keywords or concepts.Expect to have several different ways of expressing these keywords – don’t forget spelling variations and abbreviations.OR you could use PICO:Patients or PopulationInterventionComparison (optional)Outcome(s).
6 What kinds of literature? Generally speaking, the aim of a literature search (whichyou will need to do for your review) is to identify as manyitems of secondary data as possible. Secondary data isdata that already exists, for example:booksjournal articlesconference papersreportsnewspapersdata basespublished statisticsvideos, films, broadcastselectronic databasesthe Internet
7 Any current research on my topic? Check these databases for details of ongoingresearch:The National Research Register (NNR) - holds details of all research projects approved by the NHS and includes records of ongoing and recently completed projects.The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme a national programme of research funded by the Department of Health R&D programme.
8 Commonly used databases CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature)British Nursing IndexAllied and Complementary MedicineMEDLINE (Medical Literature Online)Cochrane DatabaseEMBASE (the Excerpta Medical database)PsychoINFO (Psychology Information)National Research RegisterReFeR (Department of Health Research Findings Register)
9 Natural languageUses your own words and searches words and phrases (typically from the title, abstract and keyword fields) to retrieve records.Potentially can search any field of a database.Can be very precise (but there can be ambiguities, e.g. moderation of an exam or within reasonable limits).Some problems:Plurals, e.g. child or childrendifferent spellings, e.g. faecal or fecaldifferent terminology, e.g. pavement or sidewalkPrefixes, e.g. prenatal, pre natal, pre-natal.
10 Database features to support natural language (1) Truncation (e.g. *, $) used to search for different word stems and word endings:use comput* to find computer, computers, computed, computing etc. (BUT comp* would find compost!)Wild cards (e.g. *, ?) used to search for spelling variants:use leuk*mia to find leukaemia or leukemiaProximity and adjacent operators (e.g. adj. or near):motor near2 accidents
11 Database features to support natural language (2) ProximityIt is also possible to specify how close together your search terms appear, by using w (for within) and a number (for the number of words between the terms):e.g. customer* w/3 service* will retrieve customer service, services to customer, and services to our customers
12 Database features to support natural language (3) Documenting a searchhelps to avoid duplication, allows replication in future, e.g. date of search, sources searched, numbers of hits, details of strategy etc.Reference managementReference Manager, EndNote etc.
13 Example of a very good search #Search HistoryResults1exp Leg Ulcer/38832exp Venous Ulcer/69631 or 24exp "Bandages and Dressings"/43805exp BANDAGING TECHNIQUES/5046exp COMPRESSION THERAPY/ or exp COMPRESSION GARMENTS/11817(bandag$ or dressing$ or stocking$).mp. [mp=title, subject heading word, abstract, instrumentation]570184 or 5 or 6 or 7669693 and 8115510limit 9 to (clinical trial and nursing journals)43
14 Example of a good search #Search HistoryResults1exp Leg Ulcer/38832exp Venous Ulcer/69631 or 24exp Compression Therapy/ or exp BANDAGING TECHNIQUES/ or exp "Bandages and Dressings"/516453 and 49956limit 5 to (clinical trial and nursing journals)39
15 Example of a poor search #Search HistoryResults1(leg ulcers and bandages).mp. [mp=title, subject heading word, abstract, instrumentation]2302limit 1 to (clinical trial and nursing journals)16