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Evidence Based Practice Tutorial

Step 2: Search

  • Once you've formulated a research question and started thinking of some keywords and search strategies, it's time to start searching for information.
  • It's important to make sure your research is relevant and not redundant. In other words, you want the right kind of sources for what you're writing, but you also want those sources to all contribute something unique to your research.
    • Try doing the same search in multiple places. Although there might be some overlap, different databases have access to different journals and will give you different search results.
    • Another way to find more unique sources is to use synonyms and other variations on the keywords from your research question.
    • One more way to find less redundant sources is to try some advanced search techniques like MeSH and subject heading searches. If your discipline is outside of medicine, try searching Google for advanced search tutorials in the database you're using - generally, the principle is pretty similar across databases, but there may be some specifics you'll want to know about.


  • Sometimes, you'll realize once you start searching that your research question is too broad or too narrow, or there's some other issue with it that isn't allowing you to find the information you need. This is a normal part of the research process. If you're not finding the information you need, take a deep breath, go back to step 1, and reformulate your question.

Further reading for Step 2: Search

Finding Journal Articles

Library Databases by Subject

Google Scholar

  • Google Scholar can often feel easier to use than our databases, and it's totally fine to use for most research purposes! Make sure you use it through the library for full-text access - if we have access, the full-text link will appear to the right in the search results.

Finding books

  • Some disciplines will expect you to use more book sources than others. Subjects like history and art are often covered better in books than in academic journal articles, so keep in mind what subject you're working in when deciding what types of sources to look for.
  • The library has two main methods of finding books: TOPCAT, which is our library catalog and will tell you the physical books, textbooks, and some ebooks the library has access to, and ProQuest Ebook Central, which is our primary ebook database with tens of thousands of available full-text books. Use the widgets below to access these two search tools.