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Evidence Based Practice/Research Methods (Health)

Searching for quality information: using Discovery and the online databases

Finding Quality Information Part 1_Searching Discovery

Part 1 of this video series looks at how to search for quality information using Discovery.

It covers the basics of searching and using Discovery to create a basic and advanced search.

Please note: although the examples used in this video are based on Public Health topics, the advice given and the searching technique can be applied to any health discipline. 

Video Presentation - Part 1:

Click on the link to watch a video on searching and using the Discovery search engine

The slides which are used during this video presentation are below.

Finding Quality Information Part 2_Searching the Online Databases

Part 2 of this video series looks at searching for quality information in the subject databases.

It covers advanced and structured searching in the online health databases.

If you haven’t already done so, you might also find it useful to watch part 1 which looks at the basics of searching and using Discovery.

Please note: although the examples used in this video are based on Public Health topics, the advice given and the searching technique can be applied to any health discipline.

Video Presentation - Part 2:

Click on the link to watch a video on searching and using the online subject databases

The slides which are used during this video presentation are below.

How to find journal articles

Do you want to find journal articles on a topic or look for a specific article?

Use Discovery - input your topic or the details of a journal article to search across most of the Library's resources


Search for journal articles
More search options

If you have a journal title use Journal Finder to check if the Library has access to full text.

Journal Finder

If you know the name of a Journal, enter the title here to check if it's available in the Library



To link through to a complete list of e-journals: A-Z list

What are journals?

They are:Journals

  • like magazines but of a scholarly nature
  • published at regular intervals with no predetermined end
  • contain articles on a variety of topics
  • the articles are written by different authors
  • sometimes they also contain reviews and other information
  • in printed and electronic formats

Why Should I use them?

  • journal time is much quicker than for a book
  • using information from journals will keep you up to date and informed of new developments in your subject
  • journals articles are more specific than books.  They give you more detailed information in a more scholarly and concise format
  • subject may not yet (or may never) be covered in books
  • quality research - academic reputation - peer reviewed.

What is scholarly/peer reviewed?

  • Written by an academic, who is a specialist in the subject
  • Submitted to an editor, who then passes the work to other professionals or 'peers' for a critiques, the work is then passed back to the original writer for changes to be made before being published
  • Longer articles, heavily text based
  • Charts, tables, statistics and images
  • Properly referenced with a list of references at the end of the article.

Evidence Based Practice

What is Evidence Based Practice (EBP)?

Evidence Based Practice is about using the best available evidence on the effectiveness of healthcare interventions as a basis for professional decision making in practice.  The evidence from the research should be used in conjunction with clinician expertise and patient choice.

Levels of Evidence

Evidence comes in various forms, some more reliable than others, so it is important that clinical practice is based on the most dependable.  In order of decreasing scientific validity they are:

  • At least one systematic review
  • One or more well conducted randomised control trials of appropriate size
  • Well designed non-randomised trials
  • Well-designed non-experimental studies from more than one source
  • Opinions of respected authorities
  •  “Someone told me”

What is a Systematic Review?

A systematic review assesses the effectiveness of a healthcare intervention on a disease or illness by providing a scientific method of assessing research evidence.

Systematic Reviews take great care to find and locate all relevant research studies on a particular intervention.  Rigorous methods are used to limit bias in identifying or rejecting studies to be included in the Review.  Each study is assessed and the results of the individual studies are synthesised in an unbiased way and an impartial summary of the findings is presented.

One of the main sources of Systematic Reviews is the Cochrane Library Online

To find the research efficiently, the first step is to ask a well-designed clinical question based on the PICO, PIO or PEO formula. This formula provides a framework for you search strategy. 

PICO  (Quantitative)  PIO   (Quantitative)     PEO   (Qualitative)
 - Patient or Problem  - Patient or Problem  - Patient or Problem
 -  Intervention (drugs treatment or therapy)  - Intervention (drugs treatment or therapy)  E - Exposure

C - Comparison between the Interventions

(control and experiment)

(optional - if there is no comparison use PIO)

O - Outcome - the results of the trials O  - Outcomes (Themes)
O - Outcome - the results of the trials  

Evidence Based Practice Resources

In addition to the specialist subject databases listed under Databases for your subject in your subject LibGuide you may find the following databases useful for evidence based research:

Support with finding information for your assignments

We can support you with:

  • Searching for books and journals using Discovery
  • Using the online subject specific databases

You can request a tutorial with a Health Librarian via: 

Please note:

1. Tutorials can be booked 2 weeks in advance.

2. The tutorials are for 1 hour.

3. Tutorials are offered via Microsoft Teams and via face to face appointments at Middlesbrough campus (please check the directions section to see if face-to-face is available for your chosen time).

4.  At busy times of year the appointments may get booked up very quickly so may not always be available. Keep an eye on the online booking page: - you will see if there are any cancellations, and when more appointments are added. The appointments are only visible 2 weeks ahead, so each weekday more may get released (depending on availability).

Please note:

For help with academic writing and skills see the Learning and Development team: 

For referencing support see:

Help - journal articles

The following guides will help you to develop your skills in finding journal articles:

Finding Journals

Critical thinking - what it is and why it matters.

Doing a Literature Search

Developing Keywords


Support for Searching the Literature for Evidence Based Practice

Need to Search Grey Literature

Grey literature is material which is not usually published through normal channels.  Examples of grey literature include: government reports, theses, conference papers and abstracts, discussion papers, newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, best practice documents, guidelines and protocols. 

The helpsheet below details the best sources to use to find grey literature in the area of health and social care.

Public Health England have also compiled an index of grey literature and the link to this is below.

Inter Library Loans

Have you found a useful resource that we do not have access to?  Undergraduate students doing their final assessment projects/dissertations, postgraduate students and staff are eligible for inter library loans. See the Inter Library Loan Guide for more information.