Before you start a literature search it's important to plan what steps you will take. Ask yourself:
Where is the best place to find information for your topic?
What are the limits of your search?
Are there any research models you can use?
For more general advice on planning a literature search, select the next tab. You will also find more information in our guide on Principles of Effective Literature Searching
It is important that you plan your search in a methodical way to find the most relevant sources of information. If you can, turn your search topic into a research question. This will help you to formulate a specific and targetted search. For example, the topic 'thromobolytic therapy and heart attack' is quite vague. Instead, it could be phrased as:
How does thrombolytic therapy in A&E improve outcomes for heart attack patients?
From here, you can identify the key concepts in your search and come up with some alternative terms and keywords to search. Use the example table below as a guide. You might want to create your own table in a word document or on a piece of paper.
Write out your essay topic as a question:
|How does thrombolytic therapy in A&E improve outcomes for heart attack patients?|
Identify the important concepts in your questions and list any alternative terms underneath:
clot busting drugs
accident and emergency
Searching alternative terms will help you to find more results. Remember that searching is an iterative process and you may want to add or delete search terms after reviewing your results.
In the next tab you will find guides for searching in specific databases. You can also arrange a 1-2-1 with one of our librarians for help with literature searching or use the on-call librarian service (10am-2pm, Monday to Friday).
There are many specialist healthcare databases that you may want to use to implement a literature search. Key databases include:
Select the link below to read our guide to searching Cinahl and other Ebscohost databases:
Select the link below to read a guide to searching BNI:
Select the link below to read our guide to using the Cochrane Library:
The web resources listed below have links to evidence-based information or up-to-date news items on a range of health related topics:
Below you will find a list of libraries which you may be able to access. Some have study space within the Greater London region. Some will also allow either reference only access or borrowing rights to their collections.