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LibrarySkills@UCL for NHS staff

A guide to information literacy and library skills for NHS staff from Trusts supported by UCL Library Services, to inform clinical practice, study and research.

Searching for information

Identifying information (evidence) to inform your practice or research, requires search skills in order to:

  • develop an effective search strategy, utilising standard search techniques;
  • ensure the search strategy is suited to the purpose of your search;
  • systematically carry out your search, on appropriate resources, such as bibliographic databases;
  • ensure you retrieve a comprehensive, yet manageable set of results;
  • enable you to review and refine your search.

Evidence-based medicine

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of patients... ...the practice of EBM means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external evidence from systematic research. (Evidence-based Medicine, David Sackett, 1997)

The concept has evolved, and  as this graphic suggests, the views, values and expectations of the patient now play an important role in the process.  

Florida State University College of Medicine Evidence based Medicine Tutorial [online]. Available at: (Accessed 29 June 2022)

Evidence-based medicine as a process

To give it wider application, and include other health care professions, EBM is also referred to as evidence-based practice, and is not static - it is an iterative process. A good way to think of it is as a cycle (see below). Any investigation of evidence is likely to lead to further questions, and practice should be considered on a regular basis, to see if improvements or refinements can be made. 

Erasmus, R T & Zemlin, A E (2009). Clinical audit in the laboratory. J Clin Pathol 2009; 62: 593-597.

This guide touches on three stages of the cycle:

  • identify the question,
  • search for evidence;
  • critically appraise evidence.