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Structured information searching

Clarify your query

A well-defined query makes it easier for you to find relevant literature.

Start by identifying the keywords in your search query i.e. by extracting the significant terms.


Can resistance training reduce pelvic pain in pregnant women?

Then find words that describe these terms.
Since most literature is published in English your search words should also be in English.

Resistance training Pelvic Pain Pregnant Women
Resistance training Pelvic pain Pregnant women
Strength training   Pregnancy


Search blocks

Your terms will then form a search block.

Synonyms and similar words are combined with OR to a "block". 

The blocks are then combined with AND.


"Resistance Training" OR "Strenght TraingOR Weight-Lifting


"Pelvic Pain"




Various search strategies

If it can be applied to your research question, different search strategies may be of help in structuring your search. One of the most well-known search strategies is PICO, which stands for: 

 Each “letter” in PICO forms a search block. All the “letters" do not always have to be included in the search. The usual case is that a search consists of only "P" and "I" for example.

There are also other models, e.g. SPIDER and SPICE below.

Statens lantbruksuniversitet. (2019) Research question and selection criteria. Retrieved 2019-12-18 from (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

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