Step 2 - Obtain the Best Research Literature

Keyword Literature Search

After the determination of which resources will be utilized, the next step is to proceed with the search strategy. Several databases exist to assist in the mechanics of developing a list of keywords relevant to the topic’s PICO(T) question.

Literature Search Databases

  • CINAHL covers nursing and allied health literature from 1982 to the present.
  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews is regularly updated with full-text systematic reviews prepared by the Cochrane Collaboration.
  • EMBASE includes biomedical and pharmaceutical studies.
  • National Guidelines Clearinghouse is a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and is sponsored by AHRQ.
  • Ovid Medline is a component of PubMed and is the most comprehensive source of life science and biomedical bibliographical information. 
  • PsycINFO includes psychology and related healthcare disciplines.  It must be accessed through Ovid.
  • PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine with links to full text articles and other sources, allowing the user to enter complex clinical strategies through combined searches. 

Keyword Search Tips

Article Selection

Determine relevant articles based on the initial keyword search and any additional predefined institutional parameters for article selection. Article titles, abstracts and sources of information may assist in further refinement of the final list of articles selected.

Critically Appraise the Evidence

Critique the literature with an understanding that not all research is created equal. Factors to consider are internal validity, external validity, study design, specificity, size of study, and the results of the study. Articles should be categorized into their appropriate types of evidence.

Grading the Evidence

Many schemas exist that can be used to rank the strength of scientific evidence. Study design, quality of the evidence and consistency are often used to make such determinations. Learn more about taxonomies used in the healthcare industry to critically appraise the evidence