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Evidence-Based Practice: Where to Search for Evidence

Sources of Evidence

Where can we search for evidence?

General EBP Resources

There are a number of sites that bring together a range of Evidence-Based Practice resources:

  • The Cochrane Library
    Probably the biggest and best-known EBP resource, free to Australian users and consisting of several databases. The main databases are:
    • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR)
    • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)
    • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE)
  • EvidenceAlerts
    A searchable database of the best health-care evidence, where articles are pre-appraised for quality and clinical relevance. Free, but registration is required.

Journal Databases

You can use journal databases to find a range of materials including systematic reviews, clinical practice guidelines, and randomised controlled trials. For example:

    Recognised as the premier international index of biomedical literature, and available here in the Ovid platform..
  • PubMed
    Effectively the public equivalent of MEDLINE, and free to all users.
  • CINAHL Plus with Full Text
    CINAHL stands for Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature. It is available to CSU users in the EBSCOhost platform.
  • PsycINFO
    Produced by the American Psychological Association and available in the Ovid platform.

Abstraction Journals

These journals contain summaries of systematic reviews or of single studies:

  • ACP Journal Club
    This journal is available as an Ovid database. It consists of two journals, now merged: ACP Journal Club and Evidence-Based Medicine. Each record in the database is an abstract and commentary on an individual study or review. The abstract and commentary is available in full-text, with a citation for the original item.
  • Evidence-Based Mental Health
    This eJournal contains commentaries on articles of clinical relevance to psychiatrists and psychologists. Each commentary summarises an article's key findings and implications for clinical practice. The eJournal is available in various databases so the link here is to the Primo Search record, from where you can choose your preferred access.
  • Evidence-Based Nursing
    As for the journal above, this eJournal contain commentaries on articles of relevance to best nursing practice. Each commentary summarises key findings and implications for clinical practice. The eJournal is available in various databases so the link here is to the Primo Search record, from where you can choose your preferred access.
  • BMJ Clinical Evidence
    Ceased in June 2016 (replaced by BMJ Best Practice) but available free online in PubMed Central. Articles summarise current knowledge about clinical conditions but don't make recommendations


Clinical Practice Guidelines

You can find clinical practice guidelines by searching in journal databases, but there are some sites that provide specialised access:

  • Professional organisations can be a source of practice guidelines.
  • Australian Clinical Practice Guidelines portal
    Access to clinical practice guidelines produced for Australian practice and assessed against selection criteria, from the Australian NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council).
  • National Guideline Clearinghouse
    Public resource of summaries of evidence-based practice clinical guidelines, from the US Department of Health and Human Services. This site will not be available after 16 July, 2018.
  • UK NICE Guidelines
    The (UK) National Institute for Health and Care Excellence provides guidance to improve health and social care.

See also the box below on Grey Literature.


Other specialised resources

Resources that provide Evidence-Based Practice material in a particular subject-area:

  • Nursing+
    One-stop access to pre-appraised evidence. The Basic model is free, but registration is required.
    The main product of the Joanna Briggs Institute (Australia), offers resources in evidence-based health care, mainly nursing.  
  • PEDro
    A free Australian database of evidence related to physiotherapy.
  • OTseeker
    A free Australian database of systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials related to occupational therapy.
  • speechBITE
    A free Australian database of evidence-based practice resources at various levels, related to speech pathology.
  • psycBITE
    A free Australian database of evidence-based practice resources at various levels, related to acquired brain impairment.

See also the box in this guide on Finding Systematic Reviews

Grey Literature

Grey literature "refers to print or electronic literature that is produced by government, academia, business and industry, and is not controlled by commercial publishers ... i.e. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body."  (ICGL Luxembourg definition, 1997. Expanded in New York, 2004.)

Grey literature does not form a part of traditional publishing, and is not widely disseminated.  It can include:

  • theses and dissertations
  • conference proceedings and abstracts
  • government documents
  • research reports
  • census data
  • blog posts and tweets
  • digital repositories
  • databases of ongoing research
  • registers of clinical trials

Where and how can you search for Grey Literature?

  • GreyLit Repositories and Catalogues including:
    • arXiv -  an automated archive of research articles
    • OpenDoar - a directory of academic open access repositories
    • OpenGrey - a search engine for grey literature in Europe
    • OAIster - a catalogue of open access resources
    • The Grey Literature Report - a bimonthly report from the New York Academy of Medicine on health services research and urban health (discontinued from January 2017, but resources still accessible)
    • CADTH Grey Matters - a search tool for health-related grey literature from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health.
  • Australian sites including:
    • Trove - the National Library of Australia's discovery tool for content from libraries, museums, archives, repositories and other research and collecting organisations
    • APO - Analysis and Policy Observatory - an open access knowledge hub and information service with access to policy and practice research and resources.
    • Informit databases which include grey literature in addition to journal articles
  • Specialty databases for conferences - see Web of Science Core Collection for access to the Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Science, and Conference Proceedings Citation Index - Social Science.
  • General Internet searching - note that you can use Google Advanced Search to specify that results come from a particular type of website (eg .gov or .edu) and/or to search by file type.
  • "Hand searches of journals", and reference lists.
  • Personal contacts.

For more information on Grey Literature, see Curtin University's guide on Systematic Reviews: Grey Literature