Literature Searching

Sources of research literature

  • Systematic reviews are really important sources of research literature on a specific topic. The Cochrane Library ( is the best source of systematic reviews on health care effectiveness and the Social Care Institute of Excellence ( produces reviews that evaluate existing research and literature about particular aspects of health care.
  • Journals that contain comprehensive research articles such as: British Journal of Learning Disabilities, British Journal of Radiology, International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, Journal of Family Therapy, Health and Social Care in the Community, Physiotherapy, Research on Social Work Practice, Journal of Advanced Nursing, Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, Journal of Clinical Nursing.
  • Journals that specialise in reviewing research such as: Cochrane Reviews (, Effective Health Care Bulletins (, Evidence-based Medicine (, Evidence-based Mental Health (, Evidence-based Nursing (, Journal of Social Service Research (
  • Published research reports and reviews from various organisations such as: government departments, professional bodies, university departments (e.g. University of York Social Policy Research Unit,, research units, specialist units, reports for the funders of research (e.g. National Institute for Health Research,, charities and voluntary organisations (e.g. Joseph Rowntree Foundation Reports,
  • Conference papers that have been produced as a result of a national or international conference and put into a single document, journal article or are available online.
  • Specialist books that report research studies on a specific subject topic. Usually the books are edited and each chapter has a different author who has undertaken research in the subject area.
  • Theses and dissertations that are produced as the result of research undertaken for a degree. These are usually available at the university where the degree or doctorate was undertaken and can be borrowed for a short while or may be available online.

Other useful information resources

  • Online databases that can be used to search for research and evidence such as: Allied and Complementary Medicine, Applied Social Services Index and Abstracts (ASSIA), British Nursing Index (BNI), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Cochrane Library, Index to Theses, The Excerpta Medical Database (EMBASE), Medical Literature online (MEDLINE), National Research Register (NRR) Psychology Information (PsychINFO).

Internet resources

There are many internet sites that act as gateways to the large amount of information available. Local health and social care libraries will be able to give up-to-date information, for example:

  • The King’s Fund Library, which is concerned with health care and organisational management (
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for clinical guidelines, technology appraisals and public health guidance (
  • Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) at York keeps a database of good-quality research reviews of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health care interventions, and the management and organisation of health services. It also keeps a database of published economic evaluations of health care interventions (