This is where you turn your research question into a comprehensive search plan. In each section you'll find relevant videos and activities to develop your understanding of each skill.
Knowing the exact topic you intend to search is important. The more specific the information you provide in the research question, the more specific your search of the literature will be.
The first step is to Identify the main concepts of your research question. The concepts (or themes) need to be identified in order to ensure you search all the concepts.
When looking at your research question, consider "Which words would I Google?". These are often the main concepts of the search.
The following activity with an example topic will help you to think about what terms can be used for conducting a search. (*With screenreaders - use arrows and spacebar)
The search planner is a tool which can help you develop a complex and comprehensive search.
Planning your search for the databases
This video demonstrates preliminary searching;
identifying concepts, synonyms, using the search planner,
and how to apply this to a search in an EBSCO database.
Once you have identified your concepts, you will need to think of alternative ways in which your concepts may be described.
Adding further alternative search terms to your search will also help you go beyond the language you've used in your research question, to find literature by authors all over the world, regardless of how differently they describe the same topic. This will enable you to capture a broader set of results.
This is a more comprehensive and time efficient way of searching, although planning your search can initially take some time.
The following activity can help you to learn how to split your concepts for searching in databases. (*With screenreaders - use arrows and spacebar)
You don't know what's out there until you have a look. Preliminary searches help you to:
Key Articles (also known as the Gold Set) are any article you find that would match the topic of your review. They can be found at this preliminary stage, but also will be found throughout the search process of the review. Citation searching all these key articles is part of the review search process.
Citation Searching (snowball searching)
From each key article on your topic you can "snowball" your search
to find citing articles and references using Scopusand Web of Science
Subject headings are built into databases like MEDLINE, and all articles are organised according to those subject headings. If you search the subject headings for your topic, the database will retrieve nearly every article on the topic regardless of the various keywords other authors used in their title/abstract/articles.
Subject Headings - what are they?
A basic introduction to what subject headings are and why they're important
Subject Headings - How they REALLY work
An in depth video that shows how headings work so you can control them in your systematic search
In MEDLINE subject headings are called MeSH (Medical Subject Headings).
An article titled "Health education on diabetes for outpatients" might be found under these MeSH Headings:
Subject headings vary from one database to another. MeSH in Medline is different to the subject headings in CINAHL, APA PsycINFO or SportDiscus.
Use page 3 of the search planner (pictured below) to collect subject headings for each of your concepts, in each of the databases you intend to search. be careful not to mix up your MeSH with your CINAHL Headings!