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Evidence-Based Practice: How to Search for Evidence

An introduction to Evidence-Based Practice, based on the five steps

How to Search

Develop your search strategy

Your PICO should help you choose the key concepts for your search.

  • For each concept that you identify, consider using synonyms (alternative terms) including alternative spelling. You can combine these using the OR operator (see Searching in a database - search operators.)
  • Combine the concepts with the AND operator. Many databases allow you to search for keywords or key concepts one at a time, and then combine the search sets later, using your Search History. This is the best way to search if you are using a thesaurus such as CINAHL Headings or MeSH (Medical Subject Headings).
  • Consider searching in a selected field(s), such as title or subject. Searching using CINAHL Headings or MeSH is the most advanced way to do this.
  • Consider using truncation, and proximity searching.
  • Consider limiters that will restrict your search, such as language, date of publication, type of study, age group etc. You can apply these either as part of your search, or to your search results. The specialised databases usually have specialised limiters.

Help With Searching Databases

CSU Library has a general guide to Database help.

You can also get help from the Help sections within databases. For example:

Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.Acknowledgement of Country

Charles Sturt University is an Australian University, TEQSA Provider Identification: PRV12018. CRICOS Provider: 00005F.