LIt.search frequently asked questions

The Answers

Q: Why use a search filter?. 

  • Creating a good search is a time consuming process
  • Even experienced searchers can develop poor searches
  • Search filters save time by providing a pre-written search
  • The search is developed with experts and is evidence based
  • You will maximise relevant results and minimise irrelevant items
  • It is hard to intuitively search large databases such as PubMed efficiently and effectively due to the volume of data.
  • Also see About LIt.search.


Q: What are the differences between using LIt.search and Google?

Both LIt.search and Google are free to use and available through the web. However, LIt.search and Google filter different types of information from different sources. Differences include:

  • LIt.search is developed to maximise relevant results. Google retrieves a large number of results that may or may not be relevant to your topic of interest
  • LIt.search searches peer reviewed literature in PubMed. Articles are subject to quality and review processes before inclusion. Google will return material of varying quality and you may not know how trustworthy they are
  • LIt.search finds peer reviewed journal articles. Google finds different types of items such as links to websites, articles, conferences, advertisements and videos. Google's results also include links to grey literature such as books, reports, and articles in journals that haven't been peer reviewed
  • LIt.search will search the journals indexed in the PubMed database. Google will search whatever is held on the web
  • LIt.search will search journals focusing on health and medical research. Google will search material from a range of disciplines.


Q. What is the difference between LIt.search and the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet?

LIt.search is a system of searching and the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is a collection of resources. While both will take you to journal articles on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, they do this in different ways. LIt.search searches a broad range of peer reviewed journal articles in the PubMed database and can identify which are free full text articles. The HealthInfoNet has created a wide range of resources including a database of academic literature and grey literature.


Q: How can the LIt.search help policy makers?

Access to existing and emerging evidence is fundamental to informed decision making so finding what is known to work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is important to ‘closing the gap’. Given its size and relevance, searching the PubMed database is a critical first step in evidence retrieval in this field. Yet searching can be difficult and unrewarding. Search filters provide an evidence-based shortcut to literature retrieval. LIt.search offers easy, fast and reliable retrieval of the current literature relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.


Q: Why PubMed?

PubMed is a health-focused database of peer review articles that is freely available and readily accessible. For more information on PubMed, see About LIt.search.


Q: Will LIt.search give me ALL the literature about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health?

No. LIt.search can only find articles that are held in the PubMed database. The PubMed database only indexes articles from journals in its discipline. It will not include articles relating to health published in journals whose main focus is not health and medicine. Other databases can hold unique literature. For information about searching other literature, such as grey literature, see the CareSearch website or go to our case story about searching grey literature.
 Good sources of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health grey literature include our Published Research list or the Australian Indigneous HealthInfoNet.


Q: How do I access articles from my search that are not available for free?

LIt. search gives users the option to access free full-text articles or all citations. Some of the citations listed will require that you (or your organisation or your university) have a paid subscription to the journals to access the full article. The Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (PHCRIS) has written a fact sheet on accessing journal articles. Some of the suggestions include contacting the author, gaining access through a library and using a document delivery service. PubMed also has advice on how to get a journal article.


Q:  Why isn’t term 'x' included in the LIt.search search string?

Many terms were considered during the development of the search filter. Terms were included if they retrieved materials that were about Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and did not retrieve articles that were on other topics. Terms were rejected if they were applicable to other health care contexts or retrieved too many irrelevant results, e.g. rural and remote.


Q: Can LIt.search be used for a systematic review?

Lit.search will be useful in identifying relevant literature to prepare a systematic review. However, as a systematic review tries to find ALL the research literature related to the particular question, additional searching specifically related to the topic will be needed. In particular, authors of the review may need to search in databases other than PubMed which might hold relevant articles.


Q: Can I use LIt.search to build my own search?

If you can’t find a search topic in your area of interest, we recommend that you add your own terms in the 'keywords' box on the LIt.search page.


Q: Can I use LIt.search with other databases, including CINAHL, Embase, or Informit?

LIt.search was designed to be used in PubMed. A version of LIt.search is available for OvidSP Medline. It will not work in other databases (such as CINAHL, Embase, or Informit) as they each use a different searching language. But you can use the individual terms in the filter as a guide to helping you find appropriate terms in another bibliographic database. You will need to identify whether the new database has its own Thesaurus and what would be matching index terms. 

This is the OvidSP Medline version for researchers and librarians: ((exp Australia/ OR Australia$.ti,ab.) AND (Oceanic ancestry group/ OR aborigin$.ti,ab. OR indigenous.mp.)) OR torres strait$ islander$.ti,ab.


Q: How do I cite or reference LIt.search if I use it in my work?

In most situations, you will cite the articles retrieved by LIt.search rather than the search. If you wish to refer to LIt.search as part of your search strategy, you can reference it using the URL and date viewed.


Q: Will you include more topic searches in the future?

Please recommend new topics by using the our LIt.search feedback form page.


Q: How will I know when new topic searches are added?

We will keep you informed of any new topic searches in our fortnightly eBulletin. If you don't already receive it, you can subscribe.


Q: Are other search filters available, other than the Lowitja Search Filter?

Search filters are becoming more common as their usefulness is recognised. There are still only around forty content search filters in the world. See the Flinders Filters pages for more information.

Created: 03 July 2013 - Updated: 03 July 2013