Request Information Skills Training

On this page you will find information on information skills training. The page is split into the following sections:


E-learning for healthcare search skills e-learning modules

A suite of seven e-learning modules to support search skills has been developed nationally by Health Education England in liaison with NHS Library and Knowledge Services.  The modules can be found on the eLearning for healthcare website:  Users can opt to log in to record their training but this is not essential and certificates can be downloaded on completion. The available modules are:

Building the Foundations:

1. Introduction to searching: Consider the processes involved in searching and identify which areas you need to develop. (10 mins)

Recognise when you need to conduct a search

Identify which searching skills you need to develop

Find out where you can access further help with searching

2. Where do I start searching? Ensure that you are looking in the right places for information.(15 mins)

Identify the range of resources available to you

Identify appropriate resources relevant to your search topic

Locate the full-text of a journal article

3. How do I start to develop a search strategy? Develop a simple search strategy and save time in the long run by spending some time planning your search.   (20 mins)

Identify what you want to know and focus your topic

Use frameworks such as PICO to break down your topic

Identify additional search terms to broaden the search

Use AND/OR to combine search terms

Developing the skills:

4. Too many results? How to narrow your searchUse techniques to narrow your search to find relevant articles in less time. (20 mins)

• Apply limits (e.g. year of publication) 
• See the impact of searching in the title and abstract 
• See the impact of phrase searching on the results 
• Amend your search strategy to reduce the number of results

5. Too few results? How to broaden your searchUse techniques to increase your search results even when there doesn’t seem much available at first.(20 mins)

• Add different endings to a search term 
• See the impact of removing keywords from your search 
• See the impact of removing limits from your search 
• Amend your search strategy to increase the number of results

6. Searching with subject headingsUse advanced techniques to find more relevant articles in less time (20 mins)

• Describe what a subject heading is (or thesaurus term) and why it is used 
• Describe the difference between subject heading and keyword search 
• Select relevant subject headings for your search 
• Broaden or narrow a search using subject headings

7. How to Search the Healthcare Databases (HDAS) (20 mins)
  • Log in to HDAS with NHS Athens
  • Combine search terms
  • Search using subject headings
  • Refine your search strategy
  • Save results and download full-text articles

Library information skills e-learning modules

The library has introduced a range of training modules as e-learning which will enable access at any time from both work and home. 

E-learning modules help you to develop skills to search effectively for evidence-based information and to appraise it for relevance and credibility. Learning outcomes meet recognized key skills and competencies. Upon completion of each module a certificate of achievement can be printed out.

The modules are written by professional librarians and are mapped to the NHS KSF, Royal College of Nursing competencies and SCONUL 7 Pillars of Information Literacy for HE. Access the e-learning modules via ESR.


The modules are:

How to register with Athens

  • Register for an Athens username and password
  • Reset password if the need arises
  • Update your Athens details when moving to another Trust

NICE Evidence Search

  • View resources available without an NHS Athens account
  • Identify resources available in your own Trust/region
  • Search for evidence from all NICE Evidence sources
  • Use and customise My Library

Critical Appraisal

  • Understand the context and relevance of critical appraisal
  • Appraise published trials and systematic reviews
  • Assess their reliability and relevance, using an accredited tool (e.g. CASP, Oxford)
  • Awareness of levels (grades) of evidence in published research

Cochrane Library

  • Basic Searching
  • Have an understanding of the different Cochrane Databases within the Cochrane Library
  • Advanced Searching

(Please note that Cochrane library website has been updated since this module was written so the screenshots may differ slightly however the essential information remains the same).

Publishing, Copyright and Citations

  • Submit a paper for publication
  • Good authoring practices
  • Structuring a paper
  • Abstract writing
  • Copyright and referencing
  • Understand legal, moral and licensing framework of scientific publishing
  • Harvard and Vancouver referencing
  • Creative Commons
  • Open Access publishing
  • Understanding and use of bibliographic software for managing references

Please note that following an upgrade to the healthcare databases by NICE,  the module on Basic and Advanced Database Searching is no longer available as e-learning. You can  access a range of 23 short instructional YouTube clips demonstrating how to use the different features of the healthcare databases produced by NICE here. (NB not available on Trust networked devices). Alternatively, please contact the library to arrange 1-1 or group training.


Who is the training for?

  • Clinical and non-clinical NHS staff and workers who wish to improve their information literacy and identify the best available evidence to support their decision making.
  • Students required to retrieve and appraise information and evidence
  • Staff requiring guidance on scientific publishing


How to access library e-learning modules

For staff with access to ESR:

Modules are accessible at any time from both work and home

E-learning modules can be accessed by going to or by clicking on the ESR icon on the Applications page on the Trust Intranet. 

Log-in is available in one of 3 ways:

  • Login using a SmartCard
  • Login using a username and password using the NHS N3 network
  • Login remotely via the internet 

Login using the Trust network is via a username and password available from your ward or departmental manager in the first instance or by contacting in case of problems. The login is the same for all trust e-learning.  Details of how to log-in remotely via the internet are available here. Please see the ESR Portal Familiarisation user guide for more information on how to log-in and use ESR effectively.

Further details on how to use the library e-learning modules on the ESR portal can be found in our quick start guide. Further details on library information skills training can be found in our information skills pdf leaflet.

Library staff offer support for information skills e-learning for those who are not familiar with e-based learning modules. Contact the library for information.

For students/staff without access to ESR:

Students on long term placement and staff affiliated to the Trust who do not have access to ESR may also be eligible to access librarye-learning. Granting access could take a few weeks however as it is dependent on administrative processes outside of the library's control. Please contact the library for further details.


Face to face training

If you prefer, we can deliver tailored information skills training to you on a one to one basis in your workplace or in the library computer room. The session will be arranged at a mutually convenient time by a member of the library team who is experienced in delivering information skills training. 

Group training sessions can also be arranged. Please contact the library to discuss your needs.

Understanding Medical Statistics (next session date TBC)

Covers basic statistical principles and the most commonly used statistical terms and methods. Although it is intended to be a stand-alone session it also complements the introduction to critical appraisal course.This course is aimed at staff involved in the practice of evidence based medicine

Aim: To provide an understanding of medical statistics for healthcare professionals


  • Understand the principles of statistical methods and their importance
  • Understand how data is described and how to interpret it
  • Learn how to test confidence
  • Learn how to test difference
  • Use a range of statistical tools for assisting in critical appraisal in healthcare

How to evaluate a paper (next session date TBC)

Also known as critical appraisal, this course is aimed at all staff involved in the practice of evidence based medicine. An interactive session that focuses on developing critical appraisal skills and techniques to judge the reliability of published research. Critical appraisal skills are part of the set of health informatics skills that NHS staff require.

Aim: To provide an introduction to critical appraisal skills for healthcare professionals


  • Understand the principles of critical appraisal and its importance
  • Develop techniques to appraise published research and judge its reliability
  • Understand and assess the relevance of published research to your own work
  • Use a range of tools for assisting in critical appraisal in healthcare
  • ​Understand the basic steps involved in appraising a randomised controlled trial and work through an example as a group exercise

To book a place on either or both of these courses please contact the library on x4388 or


Bite-sized training

Library staff run a series of bite-sized training sessions. If you want to learn something new during your lunch break, feel free to bring a sandwich and come along to a 30 minute session. Drinks will be provided.

Keeping up to date in your professional field (current awareness)

Next session date TBC

Including information about search alerts, table of contents alerts, KnowledgeShare updates, social media and more. Library staff will explain various options for accessing the latest high quality evidence in your professional field on a regular basis, (often with very little effort required) and will be on hand to set up tailor made alerts on your behalf. This session is suitable for all staff whether clinical or non-clinical.


What others think of our training

“developed my skills in literature searching to enhance evidence based practice”
“A very big thank you for your training on Wednesday, it was very well received”
“It helped me organising my research article. It was quite helpful in narrowing down my search criteria”

Training impact and evaluation

We welcome your feedback on the training we offer and collect both statistical and qualitative information to help inform our training offer.

A few weeks after you have undertaken information skills training you will be invited to complete a brief online impact assessment survey which helps us to establish how you have used your new skills. The survey should only take a few minutes to complete and we are very grateful for your assistance.

Link to Trust training

For information about the training and development opportunities offered by the Trust, browse the Training, Learning and Development Prospectus [please note that this document is hosted on the Intranet so the link will only work when using the hospital IT network]. Alternatively email

For Information Skills Training Enquiries contact:

Tel: 01691 404388