Searching for evidence

R20–0682 DENT61010

Session content to embed in Canvas

(Embed text) Introduction to searching for the evidence

In this section we are going to prepare you to conduct relevant and efficient literature searches to develop your research skills for this course. We will introduce you to a searching strategy that you can apply to your own research topic and cover the following steps to successfully locating evidence.

  • Identifying keywords to use in a search
  • Locating the best place to search for evidence
  • Searching using specialist search tools

How are your research skills?

To get warmed up and to think about what you already know and do, reflect upon your current research skills and answer the following two questions.

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To varying degrees you will all have experiences of locating and identifying research or evidence that informs what you think and what you do. In this next section we will practice a strategy that will enable you to work with the evidence available.

(Embed text) Approaching your search — What/Where and How

When you are searching for resources to support your academic work and assignments, it is important to consider the following three questions:

  • What am I searching for/mapping your keywords
  • Where will I search for it?
  • How am I going to search?

Spending some extra time thinking about the answers to these questions before you start searching will make your search more efficient, helping you get to the most relevant information as quickly as possible.

What am I searching for/hoping to find?

When you are planning a search it can helpful to identify what you expect to find and to think about how you will document your searches over time. You can not only be more efficient but you will have a search that you are able to communicate to others too.

Start with the following steps.

  1. Highlight the key concepts in your research question
  2. Map out synonyms — are there any related concepts or other ways to express the same idea which need considering?
  3. Consider alternative spellings or word endings


Analyse the question below and map out relevant search terms. You may want to draft a concept map to do that.

Clinical comparison of two bleaching methods for teeth with calcific metamorphosis?

Traffic lights

Consider the terms;

  1. You MUST have — these terms cannot be compromised and are integral to your research
  2. You would CONSIDER — these terms are negotiable and are more flexible. Sometimes these may include related terms to the core terms that you cannot compromise with
  3. You DO NOT want — these terms are not required for your research and could detract from the focus of your research. If these terms begin to appear in your search results you may choose to EXCLUDE these
  4. Once you have identified the terms then you can start to put them together using connecting words AND OR NOT.

(Embed video of Juliette/Dara ) The strategy in action

Watch this video where Juliette and Dara share an example with you.

Where to search

The next step is to consider where to search for the evidence that will help you research your topic. What follows is some guidance to the specialist searching resources that are available to you to locate relevant and high quality information sources.

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2.2 -2.5 Why Should I use Library Search?

3.0 Google Scholar

1–1.7 Subject databases

How to search?

Returning to the map that you drafted in the ‘where section above’ you can start to combine those words to assist you in finding relevant evidence that will allow you to research the question fully.


Work through the following resource before putting those terms that you identified as green to make a search query.

Search Operators: Refine AND combine OR NOT?

Write your own search query and then try the search in a subject database like Pubmed and in Library Search.

What do your results look like?

What would you change about the search?

How: Discuss searching and support each other

Searching can be challenging and takes a bit of practice. We want you to be able to support each other so share what you have learnt in the discussion board below.

(Embed discussion board with the following questions)

  • What makes a good search plan?
  • How will you make your searching more efficient?
  • When will you know that your search is effective?

(Embed general) Support and feedback

(Embed Evaluation)Did the content help?



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