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EXS 460 Research & Design in Exercise Science

Spirit of inquiry

To find evidence in the literature, you must adopt an attitude of exploration and discovery.

Set aside bias and expectations about what you think you will find and approach the research process with an open mind. Search two or three (or more) databases to comprehensively explore the literature, and follow a systematic search process as described below. Remember, "evidence" is a group of facts. One study is a piece of evidence - several studies resulting in complimentary findings collectively provide evidence.

  1. Search concepts separately, using OR to combine synonyms and related terms
  2. Use the database search history to combine result lists with AND to narrow results
  3. Apply limiters (date, English language)
  4. Review and evaluate results, looking for evidence that addresses your criteria (problem, population, intervention, outcome)
Can't find articles about your topic?

This happens for many reasons!

  • Research is trendy: Your topic may not be "hot" in the current literature.
  • Confirmation bias: You might be searching for articles that support preconceived ideas or beliefs, rather than exploring the literature to discover what studies exist.
  • Lack of evidence: Your question might be difficult or impossible to test or study in a controlled, measurable way.
  • You can't find it if it doesn't exist!

Don't abandon the work you've done! If you're getting result lists but they don't contain the types of articles you thought you'd find, take a step back and skim them again with an open mind. Instead of starting over with a totally new topic, use the evidence you've discovered to adjust your topic and create a new question that is answerable in the literature.