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Physiotherapy: Find evidence (Journal articles)

Find evidence (Journal articles)

Journal <image, copyright Springer,>Journals are the primary medium for scholarly communication and account for a large percentage of university research output. They:

  • provide highly focused information
  • can be the source for the latest material on a topic
  • can sometimes be one of the few (or only) sources of scholarly information on a topic

Journals contain collections of articles and are generally published on a regular basis (e.g. issues are released monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly etc.). They can be found via Library databases.

Remember to evaluate! Just as with books, there are different types of of journals. Not all journals are suitable for your assignments.

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Databases are search tools for finding articles, papers, reports, book chapters and more. Search by topic, author, or in a specific publication. Scholarly references are best found in databases.

Databases can be discipline specific (such as Emcare), or multidisciplinary (such as Scopus). Many contain full text material, or the reference and abstract only. Find more databases by browsing the database list by subject.

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Videos and tutorials

Databases may look different but how you apply your search strategy to them is often very similar. This video shows you how to search the database Academic Search Premier (via EBSCOhost) and Scopus.

Emcare (via Ovid)  Database includes nearly 5 million records of the scholarly and peer-reviewed literature in nursing and allied health dating back to 1995. Subject coverage are Clinical Medicine, Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacology and Public Health. 

Search Emcare tutorial:

[copyright owned by La Trobe University, public domain, CC BY, CC BY-NC]

Shows how to apply your search in Scopus. [Low quality version of video available]

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Some key databases to search:

Before you search analyse your research question. Consider:

  1. The main concepts in your question. You can use these as search terms.
  2. Any synonyms (similar keywords) you could also include in your search.
  3. Any words you need to define.
  4. Plurals or different word endings for any search terms.

Find different word endings or spellings in databases by using:

  • Truncation - for different word endings e.g. exercis* finds exercise, exercises, exercising...
  • Wildcards - find different words spellings e.g. ag?ing  ageing or aging

Combine your keywords, using the connectors OR / AND, when searching.


physiotherapy OR physical therapy 


headache* OR migraine*

Quick guides:

Adrian Wressell, ‘A patient doing physiotherapy exercises in a gym’, CC Licence: by-nc-nd 2.0 UK: England & Wales ((,Image source: Wellcome Images (

You can use EndNote, or RefWorks software to create a library of references and do your referencing in a Word document.

The Library Catalogue and most databases allow you to import references into EndNote or RefWorks.

  1. Physicians for Human Rights, ‘PHR-IL's Open Clinic for Migrants and Asylum Seekers’, June 1910, CC License 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)  (, Image source: Flickr ('t know much about the topic area? Do some background reading. For example, look in your textbook(s) or a try a relevant book.
  2. Look at the terms used in any key articles found. For example, look at the abstract, subject headings or author-supplied keywords. Can you use these terms to further revise your search?
  3. Look at the reference list of any key articles found. These may be relevant.
  4. If you cannot find what you need in one database, try another one.
  5. Change your search. You may need to re-work it by adding another concept to focus it further, or removing a concept to broaden it. Are there any synonyms (similar keywords) you need to add?
  6. Searching for evidence takes time and practice. You may need to revise your search several times before you find what you need.
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Next steps

Find Book <image, public domain>Need more evidence? Consider searching for books. Click the image to learn how.



Evaluate <Image, public domain>Once you have found the evidence you intend to use for your assignment, you should evaluate it. Click the image to learn how.