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Search models

The PICO model

The PICO model (P = Patient, I = Intervention, C = Comparison, O = Outcome) is suitable as a search model for medical issues. The goal of the model is to process your search topic in a way that keywords as well as subject headings are defined as subsets, in order to meaningfully connect these subsets with the search options (Boolean Operators) afterwards.

The MIP model

The MIP model (M = Method, I = Issue, P = Participants) is very well suited for categorizing a problem in the search of qualitative or quantitative studies.

Systematic literature search

The scientific literature search is reflected in the literature references of the thesis. The supervisor can see easily how the student has proceeded, which publications have been exploited, and whether the cited publications are state-of-the-art. If you have chosen a structured approach, if you have searched several databases on your topic systematically, if you have searched these databases through textword search as well as through subject headings of the integrated thesauri, then you have conducted a systematic overview search.



Search Strategies

Literature search

You were always wondering how to conduct a systematic overview search or how to start your literature search for your dissertation? You want to know if there are any quality criteria for specialist journals? You do not know what an original publication is? If that is the case, please continue reading!

Literature search - strategic tips

Ten steps to success

1. Analysis of the topic: Simply type "scholar" into the search box of Google and you will get the search engine as the first hit link ( This search engine filters articles and books from the internet, which are available on scientific websites or on publishers' servers. This also includes the Open Access offers of universities. Now, enter your topic very briefly (two keywords maximum), and you will get several hits, often as PDF. Please make sure that you only chose articles from specialist journals or books. University websites or websites by scientific organizations or professional associations are also valuable sources of information. With the PDFs or DOCs, you proceed as follows: print and highlight keywords in the text as well as authors and titles in the literature references or in the table of contents with a text marker. In doing so, you will get a good overview of the specialist vocabulary in your topic. As soon as you find author names which are repeatedly mentioned regarding similar topics, you can be sure that they are experts in the respective field.

2.-3. Search keywords and building blocks (categories/subsets): You can now develop a search strategy with the keywords collected from the publication titles and texts, using the search model (PICO or MIP). In order to do so, you will enter the keyword in the respective category. Translate the keywords into English/German and think of synonyms and variations for each keyword.

Consulting and Contact


You have now gained some insight, but you still do not know how to get started with your topic? No problem! We are happy to assist you. Together, we search databases online, and navigate you through the database MEDLINE via the portal PubMed over the phone.

If you have specific questions on your search strategy, we identify the major and minor aspects of your search in a first conversation, and offer you further advice via email. Our support is free for doctoral students of the University Medical Center Göttingen.


Information- and Documentation Centre
Ethics in Medicine (IDEM)
University Medical Centre Göttingen
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37073 Göttingen

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