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Health

Planning Your Search Strategy

This short workbook will help you to design and construct your research strategy.

The workbook has been designed to compliment the resources in the 'Finding the Literature' section of this guide, specifically the early sections on constructing your research strategy. Follow the simple steps and then you will be ready to apply your search strategy to the relevant databases! You can find a downloadable version of this workbook here: Planning your Research Workbook

Part 1: Thinking

Part one of this workbook focuses on thinking about your research topic and from it identifying your keywords. Write down your research topic and identify your keywords: 

My research topic or question...

 

 

My key terms (think about PICO or SPIDER)...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternative Keywords:

Think about your key terms: are there any other ways of expressing these? It is crucial to use any alternative terms to ensure you are returning the maximum number of results for your research topic!

Now think about the types of resources you may need and note them down below.

These might be books, journal articles, policy document, professional documents, etc. Are they valid? Up to date? From a reliable source like a database or government website?

 

 

 

 

Once you have done this, you’ll want to start on a literature search plan. This will help you to construct your search strategy which you can then apply to your chosen databases. Part 2 of this workbook focuses on planning and constructing a literature search plan.

Part 2: Planning

My Literature Search plan                                                                   

Now write down your main keywords and alternatives, and your search techniques. Combine main keywords with AND and alternatives with OR

Main Keywords

 

 

Alternative Keywords

 

 

Search Strategy - Using Boolean (AND, OR)

 

 

Limits to the Search - ie Date, Language

 

 

Once you have noted some of your ideas down, move on to the next section and begin using the specialist databases to begin researching. As you begin to search for articles you may find that you identify other keywords and phrases to add to your search strategy. This is a good way of making your search even more relevant to your topic and also of identifying further articles. Remember, you will not only do this once, you will adapt your search strategy repeatedly before settling on your final articles to use! 

Part three of this workbook focuses on doing your research using the specialist databases for your subject.

Part 3: Doing

Carrying out your search

Now you have your search strategy, it's time to put it into practice. Below are some of the key specialist resources for Health and Social Care that you should use to find your literature.

CINAHL  

A large database of nursing and allied health journals  

Medline 

A key medical database of journals. Choose the EBSCO interface and search Medline and Cinahl together to save time  

Cochrane Library 

Provides high quality, independent evidence on the effectiveness of health care interventions. Contains the results of clinical trials and systematic reviews  

PsycInfo 

Provides access to journal articles in psychology and mental health 

Social Care Online 

Social Care Online is the UK's largest database of information and research on all aspects of social care and social work 

Sport Discus 

A comprehensive, bibliographic database covering sport, and related disciplines.  

ERIC 

Provides access to education literature and resources. 

Business Source Premier 

Business database useful for Healthcare Management 

More resources can be found on the Health Subject Guide via the Library Gateway. Databases are in the Journals Tab: https://libguides.shu.ac.uk/health 

But before you begin, take a look at the box below! You’ll need to track how you find your research and these hints and tips will help you to save time and to make sure you can find the literature you have found again.

Keeping a record of your research

It's really important when you begin your research to keep a record of where you found it. After all, you may want to revisit it and if you don't know where you got it from, this will be difficult to do! Also, your tutors and peers may want to find your resource, too. Keeping a record of your search strategies is helpful, not only for this, but as evidence that your academic work is developed using good quality resources.

You may also need to replicate your research strategy as part of your assignment. Your assessment brief will give you more information about how to present this, if necessary.

The best way to keep a record is to create a table where you can logically map your research strategy. Here is an example of how your table could look:

Database Keywords/Phrases Alternative Keywords/Database Headings Limts or filters (eg Date, Language, Peer Review) Number of results Notes/Reflections
Medline anxiety AND fast heartbeat     3 try other key terms
    (anxiety OR worry OR panic) AND (fast heartbeat OR tachycardia) [tachycardia - database heading]

2010-2020

English

327  

PRISMA Flow Diagram

You may also need to produce a PRISMA flowchart (mostly for final year students). You can find information on how to do that here: http://prisma-statement.org/PRISMAStatement/FlowDiagram

How to complete your PRISMA Flow Diagram: http://www.prisma-statement.org/PRISMAStatement/PRISMAEandE.aspx

You may also want to look at the section covering PRISMA in this book. It's available online: https://shu.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/44SHU_INST/hoqs75/alma99608351502501 (you will need to log in with your SHU username and password, or log into MyHallam first).

Article on reporting PRISMA: 

https://shu.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/44SHU_INST/19st8hg/cdi_proquest_miscellaneous_2507146928

Page, McKenzie, J. E., Bossuyt, P. M., Boutron, I., Hoffmann, T. C., Mulrow, C. D., Shamseer, L., Tetzlaff, J. M., Akl, E. A., Brennan, S. E., Chou, R., Glanville, J., Grimshaw, J. M., Hróbjartsson, A., Lalu, M. M., Li, T., Loder, E. W., Mayo-Wilson, E., McDonald, S., … Moher, D. (2021). The PRISMA 2020 statement: an updated guideline for reporting systematic reviews. BMJ (Online)372, n71–n71. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n71