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Searching: Literature searching

Detailed guide to searching tips and tricks

Literature searching intro

Searching for evidence can be a time consuming process.

We offer a literature search service which supports information needs to support:

  • Patient care
  • Service development and audits
  • Research
  • Guideline development

To request a literature search, please complete our online request form, or e-mail with the details of your search question.

If you'd like some training on how to become an efficient literature searcher, then please contact our Library & Information Skills Trainer or have a looking at our Searching Skills Resource Hub.

Books on literature searching

To find more books on literature searching and systematic reviews, search the Library Catalogue.

Searching tips

For help with searching, have a look at our Searching Skills Resource Hub.

Here are some tips and ideas on how to help you search effectively:

  • Construct your search using the PICO framework:
    • Population/Patient - who do you want to find information about?
    • Intervention - what is the intervention, e.g. drugs?
    • Comparison - useful if comparing treatments e.g. ibuprofen vs paracetmol
    • Outcome - what would you like to measure/achieve?
  • Identify the key search concepts in your search questions.
  • Identify any relevant synonym terms for your concepts, e.g. alternative spellings (UK vs US), plurals etc.
  • Create a keyword search for each concept using your synonyms and Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT).
  • Some databases allow you to search using subject headings (pre-defined topics/thesaurus).
    Combining subject headings with your keyword searches makes your search more comprehensive.

For more help with searching, download the Literature Search Process: Guidance for NHS Researchers (PDF).

Cochrane Library RSS feed - INSERT TOPIC

Here are some of the latest Cochrane Library systematic reviews and protocols for <<INSERT TOPIC>>:

Cochrane Library - general

Search the Cochrane Library for the latest systematic reviews and protocols for <<insert specialty/topic>>

Use Chrome or Edge but not Internet Explorer

When using any links from our website pages ( or logging on to NHS Open Athens ( to access journals please ensure that Chrome or Edge is selected as your browser of choice.

Internet Explorer will no longer be supported and all publishers have accordingly deprecated access so links will no longer work correctly.publishers have accordingly deprecated access so links will no longer work correctly.