Systematic Literature Search Strategies for the Health Sciences

Document Type


Publication Date



Systematic search of literature is an important skill for researchers to help achieve a comprehensive understanding of the topic of interest. Likewise, clinicians need this skill for them to be updated on the recent evidence in providing relevant health care interventions to their patients. However, many health professionals and health science students rely on the use of limited search engines and few databases without systematically performing search and retrieval of relevant studies. This practice commonly yields inadequate references for a research project or clinical decision-making resulting to an incomplete understanding of the topic at hand. This paper aims to provide an introductory guide for researchers as well as clinicians on the step-by-step process of systematic literature search. It also provides information on the available open-access directories and databases as additional or alternative sources of evidence especially in low-resource institutions. However, careful guidelines must be considered in using open-access sources to maintain the quality of research projects and clinical decisions.