Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SOCW 553: Research Knowledge and Evidence in Clinical Social Work Practice

Overview of evidence-based practice, literature review/systematic review workflows, and citation management for your written EBP assignment.

Translating Your Search Strategy

Start to build your search in one core database and then you will "translate" your search to other databases to ensure you are being as similar as possible (if not exactly the same) with your search terms and limiters.

It is always good to take a look at all of your databases at the beginning of your search setup to make sure you won't run into any major hiccups - such as no limiters, limit on search terms per search, etc. 

For most of you for this assignment you might find that MEDLINE or PsycInfo is your core database and then you will adapt it for use in other databases. 


Try using something like the final tab in the keeping track template I've created for you:

Grey Literature Searching

When you go to search for grey literature, you may need to tweak or completely change your search to fit the parameters of the database you are using. Grey literature databases often do not work in the same way that academic databases do for published literature. 

For example, if you are searching in Google for websites and reports - you will need to change the amount of limiters you can use as Google does not offer many options. 


Google also allows for some creative advanced search options, such as:

  • Site Search: using site: in your search, followed by the domain of the URL you are looking to find, will locate results only from those URLs. 
    • site:.gc.ca = Canadian government sites
    • site:.gov = American government sites
    • site:.interiorhealth.ca = Interior Health sites
  • In Title Search: using intitle: in your search, followed by the search term you are looking to find, will locate results with that term in their meta title tag. This may differ from the title you see on the website, and it may end up omitting results you could have used. For phrases (2+ words), remember to put them in quotation marks. 
    • intitle:CBT
    • intitle:"social work"

For more, check out the Google Refine Web Searches page

Peer-Review Your Search Strategy

As this point in your review process, you should consider having someone look over your proposed search strategy. Similar to peer-review, this allows you to get feedback on search terms, proposed search combinations, the databases you've selected, and more. 

I'm always surprised when I'm building search strategies for projects at how much I can still learn from others. Whether it is a database I hadn't thought to use, or a historic search term I wasn't aware of, I always learn something new. 

For the purposes of your group assignment, this is why you have me. It is strongly encouraged that every group meet with me once they have an idea of what they are looking to search for and have put together a draft search strategy. I'm here not only to help you navigate search terms and databases, but also to help you broaden or narrow your search to fit the timeline of your assignment. 

To book an appointment with me, have one group member send me an email and we can arrange a time to meet that works for all or most of your group members - arielle.lomness@ubc.ca