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Literature searching: How to search

Online resources: literature searching

Online resources on how to search: 

Library tutorials: literature searching

The library offers individual search tutorials for SVHM staff (login required): 

  • 1 hour tutorials online via or face to face in the Library dependent on current restrictions - Online tutorials
  • Learn to search Ovid Medline with a topic of your choice
  • Can include information on record keeping for systematic reviews
  • Please note that tutorials are designed to teach you generic literature searching skills. With the exception of co-authorship, library staff do not design search strategies for systematic reviews.
  • Email us to book a tutorial or find out more. Include your availability, phone number and topic.

Top tips: literature searching

  • Learn to search Ovid Medline well (we can teach you)
  • If you know how to search Ovid Medline, then the same process works for all other Ovid databases - Embase, Emcare, PsycInfo, Ovid Nursing
  • Use a combination of subject heading and textword searching for all databases except Informit Health (which does not have subject headings)
  • General process:
    • break your topic into simple concepts eg dementia and aggression
    • search subject headings for the first concept eg Dementia/
    • search text synonyms for the first concept in title and abstract eg (dementia or alzheimer*).ti,ab.
    • group the first concept using OR - this combines results but gets rid of duplicates
    • search subject headings for the second concept eg Aggression/ or Violence/
    • search synonyms for the second concept in title and abstract eg (aggress* or violen*).ti,ab.
    • group the second concept using OR
    • combine both concepts using AND to find the overlap
    • limit results carefully eg English language, year range

A good search ...

Image by Helen Wilding

The basic search process - demonstrated in Ovid Medline

Guide Author

Helen Wilding, Senior Research Librarian

Carl de Gruchy Library, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne

Literature Searching, Systematic Reviews, Mental Health liaison 
Thursdays, Fridays & alternate Wednesdays
Helen's profile | Researchgate | Orcid