What is it about?

This article explains how to write an effective search plan using simple steps. The article takes you through the tools and techniques that are widely used in major bibliographic databases such as MEDLINE and CINAHL to conduct searches. These include Boolean logic, truncation and wildcards, in-field searching, proximity operators, limits and subject thesauri. Each process is illustrated with an example to help you apply them to your own searches. The process of using these tools and techniques to either narrow (find fewer results) or broaden (find more results) is described and summarised in an easy-to-use table.

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Why is it important?

If you are doing research then searching for evidence is an important skill. The information in this article will help you search effectively and efficiently. It covers all you need to know to search major databases such as Medline and Cinahl.

Perspectives

I wrote this article with colleagues to share information skills with as wide an audience as possible. I hope that readers will feel more confident in searching for evidence and asking for help from their healthcare libraty service if they need to.

Mr Matt Holland
NWAS NHS Trust

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This page is a summary of: How it's done: search tools and techniques for major bibliographic databases, Journal of Paramedic Practice, May 2021, Mark Allen Group, DOI: 10.12968/jpar.2021.13.5.210.
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