Effective literature searching

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Effective Literature Searching Some frequently asked questions Library & Archives Service www.lshtm.ac.uk/library I’ve never done any searching before , where should I be gin? • Define your topic • Choose the resources to search You should work through the steps of an effective literature search Working logically through these steps • ensuresChoose your search is focused, your searchsystematic terms and effective The Library has produced a handbook taking you through each step, you can download it at http://bit.ly/hCUzEq • Compile the strategy and run the search • Find the full text These are the steps You’ll notice that it is not until step that you actually run your search in a database Some people find this surprising, but it is important that you don’t miss out the preparatory stages If you don’t spend some time planning first you will find it frustrating and difficult to retrieve material relevant to your topic I have a rough idea of my topic, how can I tur n this into something I can search on? You need to work through step of the literature search process: defining your topic The next few slides will take you through the basics to achieve this, but this help sheet gives more detailed information http://bit.ly/epHrbT Firstly, you must be very specific about what it is you want to find This may sound obvious, but you are going to be searching a vast body of literature There are over 20 million citations in the PubMed database alone and only a small proportion of these will be relevant to your topic Unless you are very clear about what you want, retrieving these relevant items will be extremely difficult What you want the literature to tell you? Ask questions… Question x4 by Mike Coghlan http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/4256561918/ Reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence Turning our topic into a question is helpful because it forces us to think about what it is we really want to find It is important that this question is focused “How can maternity services be best delivered?” is too vague and ill-defined for an effective literature search Think about how many potential papers this could retrieve “Which are the most effective ways to deliver maternity services to rural populations in low-income countries” is much more appropriate In this case we have defined our topic by thinking about a specific population and geographical setting Which are the most effective ways to deliver maternity services to rural populations in low-income countries? Once you have developed a question you must identify the key concepts within it Which concepts must every paper that you find address in order for it to be relevant to you? We will need to use these concepts when we come up with our search terms I have highlighted the concepts that make up my question in red Everything I find must be about maternity services, rural populations and low-income countries If any of these concepts are not represented in a paper then it will not be relevant to me and I don’t want to find it Which databases should I search? PubMed/Medline Embase Global Health Biomedicine and clinical medicine Biomedical and clinical medicine International public health This is step of the literature search process The databases you choose depend very much on the search topic Each database covers a different topic or type of information and you must choose the ones that are most Africa-Wideappropriate Information for your search question.Cochrane Library Information from or about Africa Healthcare interventions CINAHL Nursing and allied health LSHTM database subscriptions are grouped by topic on our web-pages http://bit.ly/MlnRqz You may be prompted to log-in with your Moodle username and password (begins with lon) Popline Web of Science Reproductive and sexual health All academic disciplines, good for social sciences ELDIS Grey literature related to development issues These are some popular databases used at the School More information is available in this guide http://bit.ly/dYnuFT Find our complete database listing at http://bit.ly/MlnRqz How I identify appropriate search terms? Choosing your search terms is step of the literature search process We will need to refer back to the concepts we came up with at step A database is not cognitive, and it especially can’t understand nuances in language If I search for maternity services the database will not know I also want to find papers that discuss maternity care or maternal health services You need to think of all the ways each of your concepts could be described in the title or abstract of a paper Spend some time generating this list of keywords, your results will only be as good as what you put in Further information about indentifying search terms is available http://bit.ly/egNdZl Which are the most effective ways to deliver maternity services to rural populations in low-income countries? Maternity Services • • • • • • • • • • Maternal health service(s) Maternal healthcare Maternal health care Maternal service(s) Maternity care Maternity service(s) Postpartum care/service(s) Postnatal care/service(s) Rural populations • • • • • • Rural community/ties Rural population(s) Remote population(s) Remote community/ties Non-urban Villages Low income countries • • • • • • • • Developing country/countries Developing nation(s) Developing world Low resource setting LMIC(s) Africa(n) South East Asia(n) South America(n) Prenatal care/service(s) Antenatal care/service(s) Here are the keywords I came up with for each of the concepts in my maternity services question Notice how I have considered different word endings such as plurals, the databases will not search for these automatically You should also make sure you account for differences in UK and US spellings or terminology, and include the full name of any abbreviations What are subject headings? You may also hear subject headings referred to as MeSH terms or thesaurus terms When we search by subject heading we are not searching the terms the author has used in the title or the abstract, we are searching index terms that have been applied to each article to show what it is about They work in much the same way as the index of a book When we look up HIV in an index it tells us all the pages which have content about HIV In a similar way, using the subject heading HIV will bring us all the items in a database about HIV – whether they have used the term HIV, HIV-1, HIV-2, human immunodeficiency virus or something describe that concept This is aelse recordto from the Medline database In the red box are the index terms that are applied to this record Not every database uses subject headings, and those that each use different index to show what the apaper is about.set It is of these terms that terms A comprehensive search will use both keywords and subject headings A fuller you are searching when you search by subject heading explanation is available http://bit.ly/egNdZl How I combine my search terms together? We are now up to step of the search process, compiling the search and running it in a database This step is more completely explained here http://bit.ly/fJckU7 We have to input our search terms in a way that the databases understand so that they run the search in the way we want them to Most importantly, we have to use Boolean operators to join our terms – AND & OR OR AND OR means either – we join terms with OR when we want to find any of them OR finds articles with one or more of our terms, so all of the blue areas in the diagram We use OR to join our synonyms for the same concept – we want to find anything that discusses either maternity care OR maternal healthcare AND means both – if you join terms with AND you will only find items in which those terms appear together AND finds articles with all of our terms, so only the blue area of the diagram We use AND to combine our searches for different concepts – we want to find papers discussing both maternity services AND rural communities ( OR ) AND ( _ OR _ OR _ ) When we use AND & OR together in the same search line we need to use brackets to show the order in which we want our terms combined They work in the same way as brackets in algebra, breaking up discrete and separate sections of the search You can run your search as one long search string, using brackets to separate the concepts… ("maternity services" OR "maternal health services" OR "postnatal care" OR "postpartum care") AND ("rural populations" OR "remote populations" OR "rural communities" OR "remote communities" OR non-urban OR villages) AND ("developing country” OR "low income country" OR africa OR "south america" OR "south east asia") Or in many databases you can search for each concept separately, and then combine the individual searches together with AND at the end (matern* OR postnatal OR postpartum OR prenatal) and (care OR service*) rural communit* OR remote communit* OR rural population* OR remote population* OR village* OR non-urban developing countr* OR low-income OR africa* OR south america* OR south east asia* AND AND I have used truncation in this search (*) Adding the truncation symbol to the root of a word will find all the possible word endings e.g matern* will find both maternal and maternity You can find more tricks like this to improve your search here http://bit.ly/fJckU7 For the most comprehensive search your strategy should combine both keyword and subject heading searching The structure will look something like this: 1.1 Concept keyword search (matern* OR postnatal OR postpartum OR prenatal) and (care OR service*) 2.2 Concept subject heading search exp Maternal Health Services/ OR OR 22 keyword search 4.3 Concept 5.4 Concept subject heading search rural communit* OR remote communit* OR rural population* OR remote population* OR village* OR non-urban OR 5 Concept exp Rural Health Services/ OR Rural Population/ keyword search 8.6 Concept OR 63 subject heading search 9.7 ORdeveloping 10.3 AND AND 9world OR africa* OR south america* OR south east asia* 10 exp Developing Countries/ OR AND AND Why has my search not found what I need? Don’t expect to put together a perfect search strategy first time Searching is an iterative process and it often takes a couple of revisions before you have a strategy that is effective at finding what you want First, look at the results you have retrieved Most databases will highlight your search terms in the results so you can see why a particular item was returned Use this to start your thinking about how the strategy could be improved Why has my search not found what I need? Problem – I can’t find any papers Is the scope of your search too narrow? In this search, the strategy is very specific in that it only wants to find papers about Brazil Expanding the focus to find potentially Have you checked and American use of syntax? Makewould sure you havemore not misspelt relevant material your from spelling other South countries retrieve results a crucial keyword, and you have used Boolean operators, truncation etc correctly Are youyou searching the relevant database? Different databases contain different does thefor one youof are using cover your area? search above is from Have included allmost relevant keywords and subject headings? This search has notinformation, identified synonyms each the concepts This topic means thatThe papers using terminology Medline, butthat perhaps Global Health andare Popline would find more results as they focus on international and reproductive health respectively other than included in the search not retrieved The search would exclude anything where thepublic authorhealth talks about “maternal transmission” or “vertical transmission” You can use the terminology found in papers you have already identified to add to your list of terms Why has my search not found what I need? Problem – I have too many irrelevant papers Check your search terms, are they specific to the information you want to find? Often the same word can be used in many different contexts In this search, nursing has been used as a synonmyn for breast-feeding which returned many irrelevant results about the nursing profession In cases like these you will have to decide whether the term can be omitted from the search without loosing crucial papers Look out for where you have used very general terms in your search and replace these with what it is you really want to find Participation is not a great search term as it could mean anything Terms like “patient participation” or “community participation” are more specific and therefore more effective I’ve found some useful papers, now how I get the full text? This is step of the literature search process, finding the full text There are ways you can this Using the SFX@LSHTM button from within the database Find out how this works here http://bit.ly/hQc74Y LSHTM Library catalogue http://bit.ly/fIAuBg Using another Library – we can advise on schemes such as SCONUL Access (http://bit.ly/IZGL5) and HINARI (http://bit.ly/19DiQF) Request the material via our Document Delivery service http://bit.ly/eA8MJK How can I best manage my references? Mendeley (http://bit.ly/eIhYsI) IT Services supports reference management software, rather than the Library They have written guides to two freely available, web-based resources You can import references from most databases into these resources The guides will take you through this Zotero (http://bit.ly/hEULXv) I still have some questions • There is lots more information available on our web-pages http://bit.ly/dKcW3C, including resources for more advanced searching • Post a question to the Library Support Conferences on Moodle • Contact us by email library@lshtm.ac.uk [...]... Developing Countries/ 7 OR 8 3 AND 6 AND 9 Why has my search not found what I need? Don’t expect to put together a perfect search strategy first time Searching is an iterative process and it often takes a couple of revisions before you have a strategy that is effective at finding what you want First, look at the results you have retrieved Most databases will highlight your search terms in the results so... is not a great search term as it could mean anything Terms like “patient participation” or “community participation” are more specific and therefore more effective I’ve found some useful papers, now how do I get the full text? This is step 5 of the literature search process, finding the full text There are 4 ways you can do this 1 2 3 4 Using the SFX@LSHTM button from within the database Find out how... Makewould sure you havemore not misspelt relevant material your from spelling other South countries retrieve results a crucial keyword, and you have used Boolean operators, truncation etc correctly Are youyou searching the relevant database? Different databases contain different does thefor one youof are using cover your area? search above is from Have included allmost relevant keywords and subject headings?... maternal and maternity You can find more tricks like this to improve your search here http://bit.ly/fJckU7 For the most comprehensive search your strategy should combine both keyword and subject heading searching The structure will look something like this: 1.1 Concept 1 keyword search (matern* OR postnatal OR postpartum OR prenatal) and (care OR service*) 2.2 Concept 1 subject heading search exp Maternal... take you through this Zotero (http://bit.ly/hEULXv) I still have some questions • There is lots more information available on our web-pages http://bit.ly/dKcW3C, including resources for more advanced searching • Post a question to the Library Support Conferences on Moodle • Contact us by email library@lshtm.ac.uk
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