Skip to Main Content

Research Guides@Tufts

Evidence-Based Dentistry (EBD)

Search Concepts and Search Terms

A line drawing shows a finger selecting one of three boxes.Once an appropriate foreground question is determined, it's time to search the literature for the answer.


It is the goal of the literature search to find the best answer (the answer supported by the highest-quality of evidence) in as short a time as possible.


Following best practices in creating a search and using databases helps meet this goal. The first best practice is appropriate selection of search concepts and search terms.


In order to be able to successfully do this, you need to be able to:

  • Explain why it is best practice to search concepts individually in a database
  • Produce a prioritized list of search concepts from PICO elements
  • Derive search terms from search concepts

Relevant Tutorial

Learn more with the Search Concepts and Search Terms tutorial. 

Select your format:

Adjusting Results and Creating a Working Set

A zoomed in photo showing just the man's hands shows a man forming a piece of hot glass into a shape.Once search concepts and initial search terms are identified from the foreground question, they are plugged into the database with the goal of creating a working set.


A working set is the search string you've deemed the most appropriate for your question and its results. You will take these results to the next step of the Cycle: Appraise.


Identification of a working set is an iterative process. Often the initial search terms and how you combine them won't be your working set. You need to be aware of ways to adjust your results in order to arrive at the most appropriate search string.

Relevant Tutorial

Learn more with the Adjusting Results and Creating a Working Set tutorial.

Select your format:

Need Help?

Ask Us

Desk Hours: M-F 7:45am-5pm