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Advanced Literature Search Guide for Health: STEP 7: Select your articles

Step 7: Select your articles

This page will explain how to evaluate your search results and make your final article selection.

Evaluating your results and making your final selection

  • Once the database limits and filters have been applied you may have anything between 20 and 100 results. If you end up with over 100 it may be best to refine again (see Step 6).
  • Now check your results for titles that look relevant and exclude those which are not relevant.
  • Apply the inclusion and exclusion criteria that relate to your PEO or PICO statements e.g. ensure you select papers relating to the chosen population or setting.
  • If you struggle to think of exclusion criteria, assess why you think an article doesn't fit and ask yourself why. The "why" is the exclusion criterion.
  • Do the articles relate to the UK? If the article is from an international journal is it still applicable to the UK (e.g. research done in Australia or New Zealand may be applicable) You would need to defend your inclusion of any international papers.
  • Check the research methodologies and design of your articles - quantitative papers are likely to take the form of RCNs or cohort studies based around experiments or interventions while qualitative papers may be grounded theory, phenomenological or ethnographic studies which look predominantly at people’s experiences.

TIP!  Check the methodologies used in the facet analysis sections of the dissertations (find these on the start page of this guide) for essential guidance in making your final selection of papers. This shows how to sift your results by applying your inclusion and exclusion criteria to the results found in each database.

Further information

Below are some resources you can use to find out more about this topic and a link to the Prisma checklist. 

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