Now that you have decided on your research question, you can develop your search strategy. Your search strategy is your plan on how you are going to perform a literature search to find studies for your review. Developing a strategy will save you time in the long run as it will help to ensure that you find studies relevant to your question and that you perform a 'systematic' search.
Your completed framework from Step 1 will help you identify and develop relevant search terms. Here is an example using the previous scenario:
|Related search terms
|Mind body therapies
Tip: There is no limit on how many search terms you are expected to use. You will need to find as many related search terms as possible, for each of your concepts. How many you come up with, depends on the concept you are searching for, and how broad or narrow your inclusion criteria is.
For each concept consider:
If you have found some useful articles from your scoping search, look to see what search terms they are using in their titles and abstracts. You can also browse their reference lists and look for terms which have been used in the titles of other studies.
If you look for an article in the Scopus database and open the record, a list of keywords used by the author will be listed.
If you enter a search term for one of your concepts in Google Scholar, some related search will be listed (these usually appear either in the middle or bottom of the page). These sometimes include related search terms that can be used for those concepts.
Tools such as the British National Formulary can be particularly useful if you are searching for names of drugs or medications which can be used for a particular condition.
For example, if one of the concepts of your research question related to treating headaches, your search terms would need to include the names of relevant drugs.
Useful reference tools can be found in our Drug & Pharmacology guide.