6S Search Pyramid Tool 

Searching for Research Evidence

A search strategy should aim to find research evidence that is synthesized, of the highest methodological quality, and most relevant to the issue of interest. The 6S Pyramid proposes a structure of quantitative evidence where articles that include pre-appraised and pre-synthesized studies are located at the top of the hierarchy.

6S Search Pyramid Tool

The 6S pyramid was developed by DiCenso, Bayley, & Haynes (2009) as a guide to help find the best available research evidence quickly and efficiently. The higher levels of the pyramid represent more synthesized evidence. To learn more about the 6S pyramid, please watch our Understanding Research Evidence video, 6S Pyramid: A tool that helps you find evidence quickly and efficiently (8:55 minutes).

The National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT) developed an interactive version of the 6S pyramid that is pre-populated with high-quality databases relevant to public health. This tool guides public health professionals to look for the most synthesized, highest quality research evidence first.



How to Use the Tool

The tool highlights sources of pre-appraised research evidence in order to save public health practitioners time critically appraising the literature. Levels of the pyramid feature a caution line, below which it provides resources which include evidence that has not been pre-appraised, or evidence that has been appraised with unclear or non-rigorous criteria. Evidence from sources below the caution line must be critically appraised.