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Responsible Literature Searching Guide

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The left column displays the Responsible Literature Searching (RLS) Library Guide's Table of Contents. Depending on your familiarity with searching, you can methodically review the Guide in its entirety OR go directly to one (or more) specific chapter(s) for a quick review.

The tabs within each chapter include more material and are organized to help users find information efficiently.

Responsible Literature Searching Library Guide


The Responsible Literature Searching (RLS) Library Guide provides an introduction and/or review of the literature search process. It was developed to complement classes, tutorials, and consultation services offered by the UT Southwestern Health Sciences Digital Library and Learning Center (UT Southwestern Library).

A comprehensive review of information published in journals, textbooks, proceedings, databases, and other print and online resources can identify applicable studies and information to avert possible dangerous outcomes. With the exponential growth of print and online information resources, it is imperative that researchers and clinicians understand the importance of responsible searching and be knowledgeable about how to identify and use relevant information resources.


After reviewing the Guide, users will be able to:

  1. Explain their searching responsibilities as the researcher or clinician
  2. Use PICO (or another applicable framework) to state the research or clinical topic as an answerable question
  3. Select appropriate databases and/or information sources
  4. Identify possible subject headings and keywords based on the concepts identified in PICO
  5. Perform the databases searches
  6. Apply limits and filters 
  7. Determine whether the searches have responsibly answered the research or clinical topic and refine search, if needed