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This guide is for practicing nurses, nurse educators, nurse practitioners, nursing administrators and students of nursing who are working in a clinical practice. This guide supports clinical decision making, research, and professional development.

When is the information definitive?

Searching for a topic comprehensively is challenging.  How do you know when you have searched enough? What type of information is definitive? When do you stop searching?

All projects are different and there is no easy answer. What information is definitive can vary depending on the topic, the question, and the discipline. However, here are a few general rules of thumb:

  • For a very clearly defined clinical search, finding a recent Cochrane review or Joanna Briggs Institute Evidence Summary on your topic may be enough.

  • Follow the evidence pyramid.  The highest quality and highest level of evidence is meta-analysis, such as a recent Cochrane review. 

  • Have you stopped finding anything new? When your search starts returning the same results and nothing new is turning up, that can be a signal you have exhausted the literature being searched.

  • You must document the steps you follow. Good quality research requires being verifiable and reproducible. Make a point to document the databases used, the date searched, terms, your search strategy, and the number of articles found. This documentation will be invaluable to the future of your project.

Managing Results - 1. Start Here

Managing Results - 2. More Help

Keep track of your search from the begining, especially if you are planning to publish your work.  Your paper's Methods Section will require you to document:

  • Where you searched (what databases).
  • When you searched (the date or dates).
  • What terms you used.
  • What search strategy you followed, and
  • The number of articles you found.

Your project might benefit from using a citation managment tool.  This softwarel helps you keep track of your citations, links to full-text, formats bibligraphies, and embeds your citations into your manuscript dynamically.

Managing Results - 3. Schedule a consult.

If you need further help, schedule a consultation with a librarian.  We can help you polish your search strategy and offer guidance about citation management software.