After you have crafted the clinical question, you may be tempted to jump right into searching - but wait! Taking a few more moments to organize your search strategy will greatly benefit the quality of your search results.
There are literally millions of published reports, journal articles, correspondence and studies available to clinicians. Choosing the best resource to search is an important decision.
1.) Ask yourself: what kind of clinical question am I trying to answer?
Determining the type of clinical question will influence what the database you use because different types of clinical questions are answered best by different types of research studies.
The table below illustrates the most common question topics and the type of corresponding research study which best addresses that question.
(Woodbury & Kuhnke, 2014)
What are "pre-appraised" sources?
Pre-appraised sources are newer forms of literature that have developed to aid clinicians in applying evidence in their practice. Pre-appraised literature is that which uses an explicit review process to find and appraise evidence (Chapa, Hartung & Mayberry, 2013). The purpose of this literature is to provide clinicians with the best evidence, often at the point of care.
Where do I find "pre-appraised" sources?
Pre-appraised sources can be found in the table below, but also be sure to examine the links located under the box "Pre-Appraised Resources" on this page for a wealth of information surrounding these sources.
(Woodbury & Kuhnke, 2014)
3.) If pre-appraised synthesized evidence is not available, individual studies can be found by searching databases such as Medline, CINAHL and Embase. Progress to conducting your search.
Be sure to examine the links located under the box titled "Searching Resources" on this page for a wealth of biomedical specific search techniques and helpful tutorials. Also, it is a good idea to seek the assistance of a librarian to help guide your search and help you find the most appropriate articles.
Step 1: Isolate the main concepts of your research question
example = haptic feedback; virtual reality; motion perception
Step 2: Create a list of search terms, alternative search terms, synonyms and alternative terms to find all relevant literature. Be sure to apply advanced search syntax such as truncation and wildcards.
haptic feedback = haptic*, kinesthetic communication, vibration, mechanical stimulation, tactile electronic display, tactile imaging, surface haptics, force feedback
virtual reality = VR, stimulated 3D environment, Head Mounted Display, HMD, head tracking, eye tracking, simulator sickness
motion perception = presence, visual perception, proprioceptive, beta movement, Second-order motion perception, motion integration, motion in depth, Illusory motion, motion
Step 3: Refine your search by adding limits to your results (date range, study type, etc.), adding more concepts (location, age range, etc.), or using broader or more general search terms.
Librarians are highly skilled in assisting you with a search strategy and using the databases to retrieve valid results. For further assistance please contact us.
How to conduct a biomedical literature search flowchart
(Duke University, 2019)
Duke University (2019). Duke teaching and leading EBM: A workshop for educators and champions of evidence-based medicine. EBM Workshop. https://sites.duke.edu/ebmworkshop/files/2019/04/2019-EBM-Workshop-Manual.pdf
Sackett, D. (1996). Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn't. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 312(7023), 71–72. doi: 10.1136/bmj.312.7023.71
Woodbury, M.G.,& Kuhnke, J.L. (2014). Evidence-based practice vs.evidence-informed practice: what’s the difference? Wound Care Canada 14(1). https://www.woundscanada.ca/docman/public/wound-care-canada-magazine/2014-vol-12-no-1/510-wcc-spring-2014-v12n1-research-101/file