Learning outcomes Understand the steps involved in a literature search. Carry out a literature search of a topic in the readers area of research/practice interest. Understand how to locate the relevant literature for a research question/topic.
What is a literature search? It aims to identify the most relevant resources related to a topic that: help to provide background information about a topic gives information about research already conducted about a topic is up to date.
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 concepts –thinking of alternative terms for each concept –searching for each concept separately –combining concepts using Boolean logic –limiting your search. Revise your search, as necessary, and replicate in other sources.
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 – dont forget spelling variations and abbreviations. OR you could use PICO: –Patients or Population –Intervention –Comparison (optional) –Outcome(s).
What kinds of literature? Generally speaking, the aim of a literature search (which you will need to do for your review) is to identify as many items of secondary data as possible. Secondary data is data that already exists, for example: books journal articles conference papers reports newspapers data bases published statistics videos, films, broadcasts electronic databases the Internet
Any current research on my topic? Check these databases for details of ongoing research: 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.
Commonly used databases CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) British Nursing Index Allied and Complementary Medicine MEDLINE (Medical Literature Online) Cochrane Database EMBASE (the Excerpta Medical database) PsychoINFO (Psychology Information) National Research Register ReFeR (Department of Health Research Findings Register)
Natural language Uses 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 children –different spellings, e.g. faecal or fecal –different terminology, e.g. pavement or sidewalk –Prefixes, e.g. prenatal, pre natal, pre-natal.
Database features to support natural language (1) Truncation (e.g. *, $) used to search for different word stems and word endings: –use comput* to find computer, computers, computed, computing etc. (BUT comp* would find compost!) Wild cards (e.g. *, ?) used to search for spelling variants: –use leuk*mia to find leukaemia or leukemia Proximity and adjacent operators (e.g. adj. or near): –motor near2 accidents
Proximity –It is also possible to specify how close together your search terms appear, by using w (for within) and a number (for the number of words between the terms): e.g. customer* w/3 service* will retrieve customer service, services to customer, and services to our customers Database features to support natural language (2)
Documenting a search helps to avoid duplication, allows replication in future, e.g. date of search, sources searched, numbers of hits, details of strategy etc. Reference management Reference Manager, EndNote etc. Database features to support natural language (3)
#Search HistoryResults 1 exp Leg Ulcer/ exp Venous Ulcer/ or exp "Bandages and Dressings"/ exp BANDAGING TECHNIQUES/ exp COMPRESSION THERAPY/ or exp COMPRESSION GARMENTS/ (bandag$ or dressing$ or stocking$).mp. [mp=title, subject heading word, abstract, instrumentation] or 5 or 6 or and limit 9 to (clinical trial and nursing journals) 43 Example of a very good search
#Search HistoryResult s 1exp Leg Ulcer/3883 2exp Venous Ulcer/ or exp Compression Therapy/ or exp BANDAGING TECHNIQUES/ or exp "Bandages and Dressings"/ and limit 5 to (clinical trial and nursing journals)39 Example of a good search
Example of a poor search #Search HistoryResults 1(leg ulcers and bandages).mp. [mp=title, subject heading word, abstract, instrumentation] 230 2limit 1 to (clinical trial and nursing journals)16