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Wirral University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Search strategy formulation tools

Please see below for some helpful tips and tools that can be used to improve your search strategy!

When searching for information, most databases cannot handle searches that are complicated sentences with many concepts. As databases are large collections of information they have been designed in a way that allows specific information to be retrieved. This is done through key word searching and 'tags'.

To correctly search a database a user will need to break down a complicated sentence into concepts. These can then be broken down further into key words and tags which can then be searched on a database to bring back results. 


 The Concepts Model and PICO

The above models are a great way to breakdown your concept into multiple key terms and tags. Once identified a database can then be searched using different combinations of these key words and tags to bring back more relevant results. These can be combined using Boolean terms such as 'AND', 'OR', 'NOT'. 

Further instruction on this can be provided in our Finding the Evidence Training.