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Gerstein Science Information Centre

Searching the Literature: A Guide to Comprehensive Searching in the Health Sciences

Students and researchers in the health sciences are often required to conduct comprehensive searches of the literature. Follow the steps in this guide to learn how this process works.


Use this guide to learn how to properly and effectively conduct comprehensive searches of the literature. 


Remember that searching:

  • is an ITERATIVE process
  • often requires re-evaluation and testing, from adding or changing keywords and the ways they relate to each other, to choosing new resources to search, and even rewording or straight-up changing the research question!
  • is a logic puzzle that requires an understanding of precision and sensitivity
  • pretty fun once you get the hang of the process!

Advanced Literature Searching - Cheat Sheet

PDF cheat sheet showing syntax

This work is openly licensed via CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. For information on this guide contact Erica Nekolaichuk, Faculty Liaison & Instruction Librarian at the Gerstein Science Information Centre.