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Medicine: Y3 Project

This guide is designed for everyone - from new students to research staff - in the Faculty of Medicine, and anyone else who needs to use medical information resources.

Your BM5 Year 2 RMH literature search lecture and practical resources

Literature review

Take a look at the resources in the Literature Review section of our Research Methods site Research Methods: Literature Review. You will find there some narrated presentations, a guide and a drag and drop activity.

In the final section, called Writing and Structuring a Literature Review you will find a narrated presentation by our Writing Skills Tutor Elliott 


Planning a Literature Search

This interactive learning object shows you how to prepare your search strategy before you start searching the databases.

Work with your research question

Your research question may be in the form of a case history or clinical scenario.

To run an effective search, ask yourself 'What do I want to find out?'

You should then be able to isolate around three or four key concepts: it may help to use the PICO format:

P    Patient, Population or Problem


C    Comparison


Think of alternative terms in each case that may be useful in your search.

Key Resources

Choose the database resource that is most relevant to your area of research.

Hierarchy of Evidence

Critical appraisal

Use the Understanding Health Research: A tool for making sense of health studies to help you with your critical appraisal, along with these excellent eBooks:

Article - What is a systematic review?

Please read the following article, How to conduct a systematic review: A narrative literature review

Free Text Searching

A free text database search attempts to match the exact character strings in the search to the author, title, abstract and keyword fields in each entry.

It is necessary to search for all grammatical forms of a given search term, including US/UK spelling variations, to retrieve all relevant papers.

Truncation characters allow you to save time by searching on the stem of a word e.g. amput*

Wild cards help with spelling variations within a word e.g. organi$ation

Using Controlled Vocabulary

A controlled vocabulary search uses subject terms assigned to the individual papers, rather than looking for matching text strings.

A thesaurus is used to match the term entered in the search box with these subject terms.

Several resources use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) where the terms are arranged in a tree structure.

This article will explain further... Baumann N. How to use the medical subject headings (MeSH). International Journal of Clinical Practice 2016;70(2):171-74.

Follow the link to find out more.

Save Your Searches

Every database platform (OVID, EBSCO, Web of Science etc.) lets you create your own account or database area where you can save searches, papers etc.

You can create different groups or projects within this area: some databases will then provide links from individual items to save directly into these groups.

This means that you can save a complex search that is only part-completed, or rerun a previous search to include any more recent publications.

You can also receive automatic updates when items meeting the criteria of a search are added to a database.

Follow the Register/My Account links from any database: the account area created is then common to all databases onthe same platform.

BM5 Year 3 - Systematic Review: Advanced library skills workshop

We suggest that you view the Basic and Advanced recordings in the box called, Systematic Review training at University of Southampton, at before watching the presentation below.

Please send your questions to