2.6 Conducting an Effective Literature Search 

An important step in preparing a literature review is doing an effective literature search; while it is important, its significance may be overlooked.23 The internet provides quick access to an abundance of primary, secondary, and tertiary medical literature, which can be assessed via online journals, books, dictionaries, indexes and databases, giving users access to a wider range of individualised and structured educational opportunities.24 Medical literature can be found online using search engines like Google, Google Scholar, Yahoo, etc., and databases like MEDLINE, PubMed, CINAHL, Emcare, EMBASE, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, Web of Science, etc.24 Depending on your study area, there are many databases and search engines. The ones above are the typical ones in health sciences. The two video clips below show details on how to search Medline and CINAHL.




For a more detailed explanation of systematic reviews, watch the video below (3:23 mins) which explains why systematic reviews are important and how they are done. This includes an explanation of how the effects of interventions are compared in order to provide evidence.


Use the research question you developed in section 2.4 to complete the tasks below. Complete Task 1 on the Padlet.

  • Task 1: Decide on a research topic/research question and list four (4) terms associated with the topic that may be used as search terms.
  • Task 2: Conduct a literature search around your topic using search terms across two (2) databases. List the number of articles identified, then remove duplicates. Review at least five (5) abstracts from these articles to determine their usefulness.


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An Introduction to Research Methods for Undergraduate Health Profession Students Copyright © 2023 by Faith Alele and Bunmi Malau-Aduli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.