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Physical and Occupational Therapy

Get organized

Use an outline to organize your work

Create an outline to figure out what you know, what you do not know, and what you want to find out. The outline will guide your searching and your writing.

An example research question and a portion of an example outline: In people with multiple sclerosis, what is the extent to which a walking intervention, compared to no intervention, improves self-reported fatigue?

  • What is MS?
    • Incidence/Prevalence (Health statistics)
    • Symptoms (Books)
    • Functional losses (Books)
    • Treatments used in rehab (Books, review articles)
  • Walking intervention
    • Definition (Books)
    • Procedures (Books)
    • Evidence for/against use (Books, review articles, journal articles)
  • Walking and MS
    • Has it been used? (Journal articles)
    • Is it effective? (Journal articles)

Explore these techniques to further develop your outline and literature review:

  • Use a concept map to articulate and organize your thoughts
  • Build a synthesis matrix as you find and read important books and articles

Search the McGill Catalogue

The McGill Library Catalogue will help you find books to begin your literature review


Search WorldCat Discovery for McGill's collection of resources: books, journals, multimedia, and other resources, in both print or electronic format.

Search databases

Some tips for database searching for background literature reviews:

  • Start by limiting your search to "systematic reviews" for various aspects of your topic by using the database limits. Scoping reviews can be found by searching for "scoping" in the title, and using AND to join that to your topic search.
  • Keep your search broad at first, and get more specific as you drill down into various areas of your topic. Remember to use subject headings and keywords.
  • Once you know more about your topic, search more than one database. Choose from the list on the finding articles page.
  • Keep track of your searches by saving them in the database account. Creating an Ovid account is a good place to start.

Find health statistics

Finding statistical data on health

Canadian data:

  • Start on the StatsCan Health Statistics page where data has been grouped by topic. Once inside a topic, you can go to the "data" tab and easily create custom tables with the data you need.
  • The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) also provides quick statistics tables on many topics

United States and International data:

For more in-depth data help, contact our data librarian Martin Chandler


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Jill Boruff
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