Successfully searching for information to support a clinical need and decision is more than picking a resource to search and declaring success because the search produced results. With sound techniques you increase confidence in accurate and complete results. Although there are a plethora of resources available, freely available resources are featured in this session. This session presents a pragmatic view of searching for information to support a clinical need. It begins by considering types of information needs and possible resources because matching these correctly is essential. A brief overview of query frameworks, primarily PICO, leads to a longer discussion about creating and combining search terms. The selection of search terms certainly includes synonyms, acronyms, and plurals, but it is more than these. It is also understanding the power of free text compared to controlled terms, and using this when available. It is understanding the flexibility of truncating terms to include variant endings and forcing words to be searched as a phrase –and that, in particular, using these techniques can dramatically affect search algorithms and results, often to detriment. Depending on the resource being searched, choosing and combining search terms can provide a choice of creating a high precision results set or a high recall results set. High precision results are smaller sets that include relevant results. High recall results are larger sets that include more irrelevant and (potentially) more relevant results. Each is useful and choosing the correct one to start with saves time and frustration. Additional considerations include identifying additional articles by leveraging cited and citing references and seeking both research syntheses in addition to primary literature.
Upon completion, participant will be able to differentiate among information resources and identify those available to them.
Upon completion, participant will be able to articulate a clinical scenario as components of a literature search and translate these into search terms.
Upon completion, participant will be able to construct searches to achieve a high recall or high precision result set.