VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Evidence-Based Practice Portfolio

The goal of this guide is to provide nurses a resource to understand and carryout the steps of performing an evidence-based practice (EBP) project.

Search Process Checklist

VCU Health

Updated:  March 27, 2018 

Place on Inquiry Process Diagram

Basic Rules of Doing a Good Search

Accessing the literature is of vital importance when attempting to answer a clinical question.  In order to effectively access the various studies, you need to construct an effective search strategy.  There are some basic rules you should follow when it comes to doing a good search. (All hyperlinks below link to either videos or resources for further explanation) 


5 Basic Rules for Doing a Good Search

1.  Break Your Search into Concepts

  • Subjects/topics/words that are searched in the database(s)
  • The PICO format is a good tool in order to do this.
  • Combine your concepts with Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT)

2. Come Up with Alternative or Synonyms for Your Terms or Concepts

  • Think about alternative spellings  (color, colour)
  • Google Scholar 

3.  Use Controlled Vocabulary When Possible

4.  Start Your Search Broad and Then Focus

  • Utilize Filters/Limits and Subheadings to do this
  • Added a third term or concept 

5.  Always Search More Than One Database

  • PubMed – search if the question is medical in nature or have no idea where to start.
  • CINAHL – search if your question is one that falls within the scope of nursing practice. 



Search Process