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Study Skills and Career Development

Careers Progression

General study skills

Literature searching

----- Search strategy

----- Searching HDAS (NHS Evidence: Healthcare Databases Advanced Search)

----- Information Sources

----- Information Sources help guides

Academic writing

Reflective writing

Plagiarism and copyright


----- How to reference

----- Free referencing software



Critical Appraisal


If you have any suggestions for useful resources we might have missed or comments about the resources here, please get in touch:

We run training sessions on Literature Searching, Information Sources, Critical Appraisal, Medical Statistics, and Reflective Writing for Nurse Revalidation. For more information, visit our Training webpage, or email to book a group or one-to-one session.


Careers Progression

Career Progression (The Library, University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust)

We currently offer careers advice and training sessions. Email for available sessions throughout the year.

Visit for further details on career progression within University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust.

Future Bright - Support, Advice, Skills

Future Bright offers FREE career coaching, training and support to help you develop the skills and confidence you need to progress your career and improve your pay.

For more information, visit or click here for an information leaflet.


General study skills

The resources in this section cover a range of study skills relevant to healthcare research and assignments.

Skills for Study (Open University)
Advice on study skills, learning styles, exam technique, and IT

Study Skills Resources (UCL)
Comprehensive site for study skills

Study Skills Apps (University of Sussex)

Huge list of relevant apps to help with study


Literature searching


Literature searching (The Library, University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust)
Slides for the Literature Searching training session offered by the UHB Library. Email to arrange a session.


Search strategy

It is vital to construct an effective search strategy in order to retrieve quality search results. You will need to make sure you have a focused research question, think about your key terms (the PICO search strategy will help you here), then turn these terms into a search strategy. It is worth spending time on this part of your research as it will save a lot of effort later on.

For more in-depth training in literature searching, come along to one of our lunchtime drop-in Literature Searching sessions. We can also carry out literature searches on your behalf or as a one-to-one with you - email to arrange this.

Finding the Evidence: Using PICO to formulate a search question (Centre for Evidence Based Medicine)
Video tutorial on how to use the PICO search strategy

Finding the Evidence: Turning search terms into a search strategy (Centre for Evidence Based Medicine)
Video tutorial on turning search terms into a search strategy

Research Guidance (Shrewsbury and Telford Health Libraries)
A detailed guide to literature searching for health research

LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC (Library and Information Health Network North West)
Fantastic online course covering all aspects of literature searching (now archived, but the content is still accessible)


Searching HDAS (NHS Evidence: Healthcare Databases Advanced Search)

The Healthcare Databases Advanced Search, part of the NHS Evidence suite, allows literature searching across eight key healthcare databases, including Medline, Embase and CINAHL. It covers a vast wealth of authoritative journals and includes articles, book chapters, conference abstracts, theses and other information sources.

To access HDAS, you will need an Athens login (register if needed here - for any issues, please see our Athens FAQ section).

For more in-depth training in using HDAS, come along to one of our lunchtime drop-in Literature Searching sessions, or book a one-to-one session with a Librarian by emailing

Please see below for useful training videos

Doing a basic search

How to Lower Search Panel

Accessing the Thesaurus

Building thesaurus searches

Using Fields

Applying Limits

Combining Search Rows

Rerunning a search

Copying Rows

Editing search rows

Deleting Search Rows

Reordering Search Rows

Saving a Search Strategy

Results Display Options

Saving Results


Exporting Results

Creating Alerts

Editing and deleting Alerts

Saved Results

My Search Strategies

Deleting saved strategies

Cloning a search strategy



Information Sources

Below is an extensive list of information resources for health and medicine research. Some resources are freely available, but others are subscription resources and so will require Athens login details (register if needed here - for any issues, please see our Athens FAQ section).

For a more in-depth overview of how to make the most of these resources, come along to one of our lunchtime drop-in Information Sources sessions.

Library catalogue for all NHS Libraries in the South West

NHS Evidence: HDAS Athens login details required

The Healthcare Databases Advanced Search allows literature searching across eight key healthcare databases

Database mostly covering Medline - HDAS has much more comprehensive coverage

BNF / BNF for Children
Brings together authoritative, independent guidance and information about drugs

Cochrane Library
Extremely thorough, authoritative, independent systematic reviews
The largest clinical trials database

WHO Registry Platform
Searches across a number of international registries from various countries and continents

The UK's national thesis service

A portal for discovery of European Electronic Theses and Dissertations

NICE Guidance
NICE national guidance and advice

NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries
Practical guidance on best practice for over 330 common and/or significant primary care presentations

Life in the Fast Lane
Hub for open access medical resources (FOAM: Free Open Access Meducation)


Information Sources help guides

Information Sources (The Library, University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust)
Slides for the Information Sources training session offered by the UHB Library. Email to arrange a session.

Grey Matters (CADTH: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health)
An extensive list of grey literature sources - invaluable for systematic reviews

ScHARR Research Hacks  (Sheffield University School of Health and Related Research)
Short videos on how to use emerging technologies in health research

Oxford Medicine Online: a guide to the features and functionality (Oxford Medicine Online)
Tutorial demonstrating the key features of Oxford Medicine Online

PubMed Tutorial

PubMed for nurses

How to use the Cochrane Library  (Cochrane Library)
Guides, webinars and tutorials on how to get the most out of the Cochrane Library


Academic writing

Academic writing follows a set of formal rules to ensure that your understanding of a topic, as well as your own opinions and ideas relating to that topic, are conveyed in a clear, structured and unambiguous manner. You also need to ensure that you understand clear referencing to demonstrate your understanding of copyright law and plagiarism.

Academic Writing (University of Leeds)
A comprehensive overview of academic writing

Tips for Academic Writing and other Formal Writing (Dr. James A. Bednar)
Useful tips for academic writing

Journal of Academic Writing
An international, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the teaching, tutoring, researching, administration and development of academic writing in higher education.

'Basic Conventions of Academic Writing' (Alex Osmond)
Book chapter from Academic Writing and Grammar for Students (Sage, 2015)

Study Guides: Writing (Birmingham City University)
Study Guide and practice exercises on academic writing style


Reflective writing

Reflective writing is writing that explores practice-based experience and leads to learning and personal development. It typically involves describing an experience and your actions, reflecting on what went well and what did not, and discussing what you learned from the experience and what you would do differently next time. It can be useful to use and existing model of reflection, such as Gibbs' Reflective Cycle, or you could just follow the general advice in the resources listed below.

The Library offers an hour-long training session on Reflective Writing. Email to arrange a one-to-one or group session.

Reflective Writing for Nurse Revalidation (The Library, University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Foundation Trust)
Slides for the Reflective Writing training session offered by the UHB Library, shaped around the requirements for NMC Revalidation. Email to arrange a session.

Reflective Writing (University of the West of England)
A useful overview of reflective writing

Gibbs' Reflective Cycle (University of Cumbria)
Using Gibbs' Reflective Cycle in coursework

How to write reflectively (D. G. Anderson)
Guide to reflective writing

A Short Guide to Reflective Writing (University of Birmingham)
Guide to reflective writing

Introduction to Reflection and Reflective Writing (University of Surrey)
PowerPoint slides covering the fundamental elements of reflective writing

Reflective Writing (University of Leeds)
Short e-learning module on reflective writing

Using Gibbs (Oxford Brookes University)
Nursing example of reflective writing

University Hospitals Bristol & weston NHS FT Library books:
Reflective practice: writing and professional development, Gillie Bolton, 3rd ed (2010)



Plagiarism and copyright

"Plagiarism is presenting someone else's work or ideas as your own, with or without their consent, by incorporating it into your work without full acknowledgement. All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition. Plagiarism may be intentional or reckless, or unintentional. Under the regulations for examinations, intentional or reckless plagiarism is a disciplinary offence"

"Copyrightis one of the main types of intellectual property - others include designs, patents and trademarks.  Intellectual property allows a person to own things they create in the same way as something physical can be owned. It is the right to prevent others copying or reproducing someone's work. The main legislation dealing with copyright in the United Kingdom is the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988."

Recognising plagiarism (University of Leeds)
Activity: identifying plagiarism

You be the judge (University of Leeds)
Activity: identifying plagiarism

Plagiarism (University of the West of England)
Online advice and tutorials relating to plagiarism and academic integrity

Plagiarism (University of Bristol)
Plagiarism: information and advice

Copyright Information (Copyright Licensing Agency)
Clear overview of UK copyright law

University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS FT Library books:
Cite them right: the essential referencing guide, Richard Pears, Graham Shields, 8th ed (2010)



If you use someone else's words or ideas in a piece of work, you must reference them. This acknowledges that person's words and ideas, and avoids plagiarism.

Referencing usually involves providing information about the source both within the text and in a reference list / bibliography. There are different referencing styles, so check which one you should be using and be consistent.

How to reference

Referencing (University of Leeds)
A guide to different referencing styles

Referencing made easy… (Queen's University Belfast)
Referencing guide

Introduction to the Vancouver Style (Farley Library, Wilkes University)
Clear and comprehensive guide to Vancouver referencing

University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS FT Library books:
Cite them right: the essential referencing guide, Richard Pears, Graham Shields, 8th ed (2010)


Free referencing software

Search results can be exported from NHS Evidence Advanced Search to all of these reference managers. Just save your results as a RIS file, then upload them into your chosen reference manager.

Web-based. Very easy to set up and use.

Requires installation. Lots of useful functions.

Requires installation. In addition to citations, it can also be used to store files and take notes.



Research posters are used to summarise information in a concise and attractive way. They are used widely in the academic community, and poster presentations are a key part of conferences and clinical audit showcases.

These resources are helpful guides for planning and designing effective posters.

Designing a poster (University of Leicester)
A useful guide to poster presentations

How to create a Research Poster (NYU Libraries)
Concise guide to creating a research poster, including an overview of software you can use



Presentations are a fundamental part of professional and academic life. These resources provide useful tips and guidance on how to prepare and deliver a presentation.

There are also resources focusing specifically on Journal Club management and presentations. The Librarians are happy to assist anyone wishing to set up a journal club within their department - email if you might be interested in this support.

Tips on making presentations (University of Kent)
Comprehensive tips on how to prepare and deliver a presentation (designed for interviews, but applicable to much wider contexts)

Present like a pro (University of Manchester)
E-learning module on preparing for a presentation

Presentations (University of Leeds)
Tutorial on preparing to present

Journal Clubs (British Medical Journal)
Advice on journal club management

Journal Club tips (Department of Pharmacology, University of Virginia)
Useful tips for journal club presentations


Critical Appraisal

Critical Appraisal is the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of research methodology. It involves systematically examining a piece of research to judge how trustworthy it is, as well as how relevant and useful it is in the given context.

The Library offers hour-long Critical Appraisal training sessions. You can either come along to one of our lunchtime drop-in sessions, or email to arrange a one-to-one or group session.

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme
Introduction to the critical appraisal process, with checklists for appraising papers tailored to the study design (RCT, cohort study etc.)

EBM Resources (Centre for Evidence Based Medicine)
Tools for searching the and appraising the evidence base

Bandolier Glossary (Bandolier)
Fantastic evidence based medicine glossary

Statistics Basics (For Dummies)
Short introductions to a variety of statistics topics

Sketchy EBM
Fun YouTube videos explaining a range of critical appraisal topics

University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS FT Library books: See classmark WB 20



How to write surveys (Mantex)
Guidance on how to write and carry out a survey

Note-taking (University of Leeds)
Tutorial on how to take notes

Assignment Survival Kit (University of Kent)
Includes and assignment calculator and planner, and useful links