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Getting Back into Study: Refresher Guide for Students (HWLS): Moving Forward - Searching for literature and evidence

Why you need to use good quality literature & evidence!

It's really important in all Health and Social Care fields to find good quality, up to date literature and evidence! As it's so important to find the best evidence and literature for your topic, you will need to develop good research skills to enable you to do this. The resources in this section will help you to develop these skills: from constructing a 'comprehensive' research strategy, applying it to the different databases to find your research articles, to evaluating and using it in your work. 

You can find the relevant databases in your Subject Guide. The links to these are in the 'Subject Guides' tab in this resource. Remember, you should search across a range of databases relevant to your research topic, to ensure you are capturing all of the available evidence and literature.

You may also need to use evidence based resources to find information for your work. You can find these in the Evidence Based Research Resources Tab in your Subject Guide.

And you can always contact us for further help from your Subject Librarian. Use Library Chat or email to request support.

Happy hunting!

1. The process of searching

These really short videos talk you through the process of constructing a literature search. Beginning with the theory of why you need to use good quality academic resources and the process of searching for literature and evidence, they move through identifying key concepts - which form the basis of your key words and phrases - and onto the resources you need to use to find literature and evidence to support your work.

Planning your Research Strategy Workbook!

To compliment these resources, you can use our handy workbook to help you work through constructing your research strategy. You can find it here: Planning Your Research Strategy

The Theory

Why you need to use authoritative resources:

The search cycle:

Identifying Concepts 

Keywords – mental health:

The Resources

Introduction to journal articles:

3. Evaluating what you find

 Evaluating the Evidence

Once you have found your evidence to support your literature review, you will need to evaluate what you have found. Here are some useful resources to help you do that:

Short video giving you hints and tips about how to evaluate the information and resources you find.

Quick video on deciding whether your results are good enough to use.

2. Searching using a Framework

Searching With PICO/SPIDER

There are methodologies you can use to help you identify your research articles. The ones you use depend on the type of research you are looking for. The below articles outline how to use two of the most popular research methodologies for Health research - PICO and SPIDER. You may be asked to use them to evidence your research strategy.

NOTE: you may not have to do this, but it is a useful strategy to help you to break down your research topic to identify keywords/phrases and alternative terms and how to combine them using Boolean.

How to use a PICO search - Cochrane PICO search strategy

Searching for proof: Creating and using an actionable PICO question - Article on how to use the PICO strategy to identify key research.

Getting started with your PICO search - Cochrane flipbook on searching with your PICO strategy

Hastings, & Fisher, C. A. (2014). Searching for proof: Creating and using an actionable PICO question. Nursing Management, 45(8), 9–12.

This is a journal article on how to use the PICO strategy to identify key research.

SPIDER Search Strategy - Sample, Phenomenon of Interest, Design, Evaluation, Research type - Used for finding qualitative or mixed-method research articles.


4. Doing a PRISMA Flow Diagram

 PRISMA Flow Diagram

You may be asked to create a PRISMA flow diagram to show where you have found your evidence (most likely only for your final research project, so don't panic about this yet!). But if you are asked to produce a PRISMA, these links guide you through creating your PRISMA Flow Diagram:

What's Next?

We hope you found that useful and helpful in starting your searching journey! Remember, you can always contact us for further help from your Subject Librarian. Use Library Chat or contact Hallam Help to request support.

Next up comes finding the specialist resources for your subject area. These are collected together in a unique 'Subject Guide' that your Learning & Teaching (Subject) Librarian curates, especially for you!

Here we have brought together the resources that are useful for your subject areas. Not only the relevant databases, but also professional body information and evidence-based resources too. These guides will save you time and energy sorting through the mass of resources we provide as a whole University Library, so please use them! We are all about saving you as much time as we can.