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Health Informatics: Literature searching

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Creating a search strategy

Outlined on this page are the 4 main steps to a successful literature search.  Additional advice and support is always available from your Librarians, see our contact details on the home page.  You may also find the handouts and links below useful.

Developing a search strategy

"Read Chapter 4 - How do I search for relevant literature?"

"Read Chapter 7 - The principles of research" 

"Read Chapter 4 - Finding and critiquing literature"

"Read Chapter 2 - Searching the literature"


 "Read chapter 5 - Searching and reviewing the literature"


"Read Chapter 4 - How do I search for literature?"

Successful literature searching

Spending a small amount of time thinking about your search strategy will really help you when finding information for your assignments.  They key points to a good search strategy are:

  • Defining your Keywords
  • Setting limits (ie: date of publication, language)
  • Where are you going to search? (databases, websites etc.)
  • Recording your results

You'll find a few book chapters that can help you when it comes to developing your search strategy on these pages.

There is a wide range of information you may like to include in your assignments.  This includes:

  • Books - We recommend that you start with your module reading list in Canvas to find key texts on your topic.
  • Journal articles - Your main database to locate journal articles is Medline. 
  • Grey Literature - This is basically anything not published in a journal, for example conference proceedings, Government documents, Reports from Organizations.

Getting your keywords right is a very important part of the search process, the more literature you read on your  topic the more keywords and key terms you will come across.  At the beginning of your search you may only have a few keywords, with these you can conduct a scoping search (a brief, broad search) to get an overview of how much literature there is on your topic.  Based on your results you can then refine your keywords and rerun your search.

Correct combination of your keywords using boolean operators (AND/OR/NOT) will be important.  We have created a research record form to help you to think about keywords for your search.  

NB: Some of our databases will also have Subject Headings/Thesaurus headings.  Using subject heading searches is an advanced way of searching for literature and can provide a useful, focused set of results.  Each database will have a help page with further details.

Critically appraising your sources is a crucial element of any literature search and a question we get asked a lot.  How do you know if your sources are:

  • reliable
  • academic enough
  • Free from bias

There are a number of excellent books, book chapters and websites that can help you when it comes to critically appraising your sources.  You'll find a few on these pages.

ECLIPSE - a tool for identifying your search terms

Start considering your key search terms by identifying the key concepts in your research questions and then consider synonyms, related terms, different spellings, abbreviations, more specific and general terms that an author or authors may have used to discuss the topic.

The ECLIPSE tool is designed for health management searches but may help you frame your search for a change in a health informatics service.

Wildrige, V., & Bell L. (2002). How CLIP became ECLIPSE: A mnemonic to assist in searching for health policy/management information. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 19(2), 113-5.

What does the search requester want the information for?

At whom is the service aimed?

Where is the service sited?

What is the change in the service, if any, which is being looked for? What would constitute success? How is this being measured?

Who is involved in providing/improving the service?

For which service are you looking for information? For example, outpatient services, nurse-led clinics, intermediate care?

How will I critically appraise what I find

"Read Chapter 1 - Introduction to Critical Appraisal"

"Read Chapter 5 - How do I critically appraise the literature?"

"Read chapter 6 - Critical appraisal of the literature"

"Read Chapter 2 - How you can think more critically about information that is readily available"

"Read Chapter 7 - The principles of research" 

"Read Chapter 4 - Finding and critiquing literature"

"Read Chapter 2 - Searching the literature" 

"Read Chapter 6 - How do I know if the evidence is convincing and useful?"