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Literature searching and finding evidence

Introductory guide for School of Health & Psychological Sciences students

Select your search terms

Using only one search term for each concept from your topic may not find enough results. This is because a different term could have been used to describe something, e.g. instead of using the term exercise an article may use the term physical activity. Using synonyms and/or related terms will make sure that you don't miss out on relevant studies.

Use frameworks like PICO to establish other terms that can be used for each concept:



infants, minors, paediatrics



physical activity, exertion, sport, walking, swimming, aerobics, fitness



nutrition, eating habits, food, feeding



overweight, weight gain, body mass index, BMI

Tips for finding related terms

  • Use a thesaurus to identify synonyms;
  • Search resources like CityLibrary Search, TRIP Pro and Google Scholar using simple keywords, then browse results for useful terms;
  • Look at abstracts of relevant articles you find for alternative words and phrases, including keywords suggested by the authors;
  • Explore the terms used by database(s) themselves to categorise articles (see the next section on 'Subject Headings/MeSH terms'.

Remember, it's about choosing the most appropriate/relevant set of terms to use, guided by your inclusion and exclusion criteria (previous page).