Before searching for literature and particularly for journal articles there are a number of things you need to think about.
First of all which database/s do you need to search to find literature relevant to your question or research area? One of the most important for midwifery is CINAHL but there are others you may need to search including Medline. Also if your question has a psychology focus for example, PsycINFO would be a good database to search.
See example below where the important bits of the question are in red:
Which is the most clinically effective, reducing postpartum haemorrhage in the 3rd stage of labour using Oxytocin or Misoprostol?
You then need to think about the different words and phrases (i.e. synonyms and alternative terms) an author might use to write about a particular topic. So, in the case of haemorrhage, an author might refer to this using a number of different words/ phrases e.g. hemorrhage, blood loss, bleeding etc.
Truncation is another search technique and what it does is pick up the different endings of a particular word stem. For example, by putting an asterisk * at the end of the letters haemorrhag* the words haemorrhage, haemorrhages and haemorrhaging will all be searched on. The asterisk * is the symbol which is most widely used for truncation but it can vary from one database or electronic source to another.
Phrase searching can be another useful technique. This is where you want to pick up words next to each other and not with any other words in between them. For example: "blood loss". On most databases and electronic sources to search for a phrase you use double inverted commas.
To connect the different parts of a search together there are two very important words: AND and OR. These linking words, or to give them their proper term, Boolean Operators allow you to put your search strategy together.
OR is the linking words you need to use for synonyms or alternative terms:
AND is the linking word you need to use to put the different parts of your search together:
Another type of searching to consider, particularly when carrying out more in-depth literature searches for work such as systematic reviews and
and for any module where you need to evidence your search strategy is Subject Searching.
For more information about this please refer to the two guides below: