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Finding clinical and scientific literature (transition skills): Guidelines and Cochrane reviews

Guidelines and Cochrane reviews

Other reliable, open access sources of medical and health information are clinical guidelines prepared by reputable organisations, and the systematic reviews published by the Cochrane Library. See below for more information.
NICE guidelines

NICE is the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. NICE develops and maintains guidance, advice, and quality standards relating to health and social care. 

Access the NICE website by clicking the link below:

Click the NICE guidance link to browse guidelines etc, or search for a topic to view all relevant guidance. Keep searches fairly simple for the best results i.e. don't search for too many terms or concepts at once.

Click on a piece of guidance to view it. Copies of most guidance can be downloaded as PDFs.

Screenshot of the NICE homepage with terms entered in the search box

Screenshot of the NICE homepage, with terms entered into the search box


Screenshot of a NICE search result

Screenshot of a piece of guidance appearing as a search result on the NICE website


Screenshot of a specific NICE guideline's webpage, with the Download guidance (PDF) link highlighted

Screenshot of the webpage for a specific NICE guideline, with the Download guidance (PDF) link highlighted

SIGN guidelines

SIGN is the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, and develops guidelines for safe and effective clinical practice.

Access the SIGN website by clicking the link below:

Click the Our guidelines link to browse guidelines etc, or search for a topic to view all relevant guidance. Keep searches simple for the best results - single concept searches seem to work best.

Click on a piece of guidance to view it. Links to download PDF versions of the full guidance, or a summary, will appear.

Screenshot of the SIGN website search box, with search terms enteredScreenshot of the SIGN website search box, with search terms entered


Screenshot of a SIGN guideline appearing in a list of search resultsScreenshot of a search result on the SIGN website


Screenshot of a specific SIGN guideline page, with download links highlighted

Screenshot of a specific SIGN guideline page, with PDF download links highlighted

Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library lets you search for different types of high-quality evidence that is used to inform best practice in health and social care.

Cochrane systematic reviews are expert reviews prepared by special groups of experts, and provide detailed overviews of current research on various medical and health-related topics.

To access the Cochrane Library, Google for it, or click the link below:

Enter your concepts or terms into the search box and click the magnifying glass icon. 

Results that are Cochrane reviews will be displayed by default.

Click on a review title to read it on-line as a webpage, or to download PDF full and summary versions.

Cochrane reviews are free to read/download in the UK and Ireland (and other countries with funded access - see the full list at: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/help/access)

Clinical trials may also appear in Cochrane Library results (click the Trials tab to view them), but the full text of these might not be available to read for free/via open access.

Screenshot of the Cochrane Library homepage, with the search box highlighted

Screenshot of the Cochrane Library homepage, with the search box highlighted


Screenshot of Cochrane Library results, with tab for Cochrane reviews and title of an individual review highlighted

Screenshot of Cochrane Library results, with tab for Cochrane reviews and title of an individual review highlighted


Screenshot of the webpage for an individual Cochrane review, with PDF download links highlighted

Screenshot of the webpage for an individual Cochrane review, with PDF download links highlighted


Screenshot of the PDF version of a Cochrane review summary

Screenshot of the PDF version of a Cochrane review summary; full versions are also available to download

Other sources of guidelines and good-quality evidence

Clinical guidelines and other types of reliable, good-quality evidence are often prepared by organisations such as charities and professional bodies, and made available via their websites.

For example, the British Cardiovascular Society website has an extensive Guidance, Publications and Reports section: https://www.britishcardiovascularsociety.org/resources/publications-reports

You can find this type of content by using Google - try searching for something like "cardiovascular disease" UK guidelines to find potentially relevant results.

Make sure content found by a Google search is from a reputable source or organisation before using it or referring to it in your work. Not sure if content found via Google is reliable? Take the CRAAP test - details at: https://researchguides.ben.edu/source-evaluation

Example of some guidelines available on the British Cardiovascular Society website

Example of some guidelines available on the British Cardiovascular Society website