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Biomedical Literature Searching 101

Need to find literature for your research, but don't know where to start? This guide is here to help!

Defining Evidence-Based Practice

Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is a method of clinical decision making that utilizes "the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research" (Sackett, Rosenberg, Gray, Haynes, & Richardson, 1996).  EBP relies not only on the clinician's expertise and education, but also takes into account current best evidence and the patients values and preferences to make patient care decisions. The three components of EBP, shown in the figure below, should be weighed equally during the clinical decision-making process.

Defining Evidence-Based Practice

Figure from Duke University Medical Center Library and Archives' "Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice."

To apply good EBP, the clinician must be a confident and efficient literature searcher. A literature search should always start with a well-defined research question. In the following module, we will teach you how to construct a well-built clinical research question using the PICO/T framework.


Duke University Medical Center Library and Archives (Feb 8, 2018). "Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice." Retrieved Feb 12, 2018, from

Sackett, D. L., Rosenberg, W. M., Gray, J. A., Haynes, R. B., & Richardson, W. S. (1996). Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. BMJ : British Medical Journal, 312(7023), 71–72.