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By: Danielle Davidov, PhD. When to do a literature search? When you want to find out more about a given topic After deciding upon your research topic.

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Presentation on theme: "By: Danielle Davidov, PhD. When to do a literature search? When you want to find out more about a given topic After deciding upon your research topic."— Presentation transcript:

1 By: Danielle Davidov, PhD

2 When to do a literature search? When you want to find out more about a given topic After deciding upon your research topic or research question Before beginning a research project or study

3 Why do a literature search? 1) To decide if your research question or project is “novel” It is useless to waste time, money, and resources on a project that has already been carried out 2) You will have to do it eventually, anyway Introduction/Discussion/References for grant or manuscript

4 Why do a literature search? 3) You will gain knowledge about your topic of interest 4) You might find a better aspect of the topic to study 5) You might find other variables to include or measures/instruments to use Ex) Previously used and validated tools or surveys 6) Learn from what others have done right and wrong “Limitations” sections in manuscripts “Future directions” sections in manuscripts

5 Why do a literature search? Mainly, you want to see if your research question has already been answered and if going forward with your study will ADD to the scientific literature and knowledge about the topic (not repeat what has previously been done) You want to find where your research idea “fits” in the current research on your topic. Are there any “gaps” in the literature that need addressed?

6 What if it has been done before? It’s okay if your research question has already been addressed in the literature You can put a different spin on the question Ex) Carry out the study in a rural population (vs. urban) Ex) If males have been studied, study females Ex) If attending physicians’ attitudes have been measured, take a look at mid-level providers or resident attitudes Ex) If the topic hasn’t been studied in the United States A thorough review of the literature will tell you whether your new “spin” on the topic has merit and is worth pursuing

7 How to conduct a search Literature searches are done through keywords and sometimes use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) Ex) If you wanted to study emergency physicians’ attitudes towards ultrasound “Emergency” AND “Attitudes” AND “Ultrasound” AND This search will find all records containing the word ‘emergency’ as well as ‘attitudes’ and ‘ultrasound’ in the same source

8 Search tips Use double quotes to find exact phrases such as “ultrasound” or “ultrasound training” Use a tilde “~” to broaden your search to synonyms A search for “~dog” returns results for “dogs,” “pet,” “puppies,” etc.

9 Boolean Operators AND – Use “AND” between words to narrow your search and retrieve records containing all of the words Ex) “mice AND mouse AND rat” – will retrieve records containing ‘mice’, ‘mouse’ AND ‘rat’ OR = use “OR” between words to broaden your search and retrieve records containing any of the words Ex) “mice OR mouse OR rat” – will retrieve records containing EITHER ‘mice’, or ‘mouse’ or ‘rat’ NOT = use “NOT” between words to narrow search and retrieve records that do not contain the term following it Ex) mice or mouse NOT rat – will retrieve records containing ‘mice’ or ‘mouse’, but NOT ‘rat’

10 Other search tips answer=136861&rd=1 answer=136861&rd=1

11 A Fine Balance Literature searches are a fine balance: If your search is too narrow, you will get very few, if any, results Ex) emergency physicians AND attitudes AND ultrasound AND survey AND West Virginia You are unlikely to many relevant results with this search

12 A Fine Balance If your search is too broad, you will get thousands of results Ex) physician attitudes Can be overwhelming!

13 Places to search for articles We will go through several search sites: 1) PubMed 2) WVU Libraries Ebscohost 3) Google Scholar

14 Start with PubMed PubMed is a good starting point for medical or emergency medicine articles


16 51 articles is very manageable

17 Click here to read the full article Here are other articles that might be relevant based on your search


19 Full text article! Save it!

20 Ebscohost – via WVU Library WVU Libraries - http://www.libraries.wvu.edu Links to multiple, searchable databases If you’re on campus – you have immediate access If you’re at home: You have to enter your username/Master ID and password: 6 digits – Day of birth (2 digits) and last 4 digits of 700 number (WVUID) If you don’t know your 700 number: Click here  Or - Call 304-293-4444 Call 304-293-4040 if you are still having problems accessing WVU library databases from home

21 A Good Starting Point! You will most likely be looking for peer- reviewed articles for your literature searches, but you can also find books, newspapers and magazines at this site Click here! “Databases” to search for articles Help here! “Ask a librarian” Clicking “Databases” will lead you to peer-reviewed journals

22 Search by subject

23 A list of medicine databases : Scroll down: MEDLINE is a good medical database to search the medical literature Databases that say “Full Text” will allow you to read entire articles, not just the abstracts

24 *Ebscohost: search several databases at once OR - Instead of searching by Subject, you can click “Ebscohost” on the right and search multiple databases at once (recommended)

25 Click the first database, then “Continue”

26 Click “Choose Databases” to view all other available databases on one page

27 The selected databases are good choices for a search of the medical literature, but you can always choose more, less or different databases based on your topic If you want to research sports medicine or TBI, for example, you can choose SPORT Discus Run your mouse over the icon to view a description of the database


29 Enter your keywords, then click “Search”


31 Clicking these options should direct you to the full article Scroll down to view all the results…

32 Full text article! Save it!

33 Sometimes, clicking “Find @ WVU” will give you the full article as well, but not always

34 Reading the abstract will give you an idea what the article is about and tell you if its worth reading the whole thing



37 Reference lists of relevant articles are a great place to find more articles related to your topic of interest! If one of these articles looks interesting, you can enter the title or author into the search boxes to find it – or you can search through Google Scholar

38 Full text not available? Sometimes you cannot find the full-text articles, even if you are searching through the WVU library website. When this happens, you can use Google or Google Scholar to try to find the article: –or- http://google.com Google scholar will give you mainly research articles, but Google itself may provide articles and other types of information – such as websites, guidelines, recommendations, etc., so searching both is a good idea

39 Search by keyword, title, or author here On Google homepage, click “more” and then “Scholar”

40 Can type keywords separated by “AND” or “OR” or type a sentence


42 Still no full-text? Sometimes you STILL can’t find full-text articles even if you search through Google. If you can’t find an article you need and you have searched PubMed, EbscoHost, and Google/Google Scholar, contact the research coordinator with the FULL citation of the article you are trying to find!

43 Now what? Once you have gathered all of your relevant articles…you need to read them thoroughly! If you are going to cite an article, make sure to read the ENTIRE manuscript, not just the abstract Pay special attention to Introduction, Limitations, and Future Directions sections of manuscripts – these sections will tell you what is current about your topic as well as what research is still needed… Try to focus on the most recent articles when conducting a literature review, but older articles can be important too Meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and review articles are great when you are trying to synthesize the literature on a given topic!

44 Next Steps Try conducting a literature search using key terms related to your topic of interest Start off by finding and reading 5 – 10 articles related to your topic Write a few sentences or one to two paragraphs summarizing what you’ve read Hopefully this will help you refine or reaffirm your research questions You may be ready to start your IRB application

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