Recording Search Strategies (new window)

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Modified with permission from presentation by Steven Duffy
Centre for Reviews & Dissemination,
University of York
December 2011
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All details of the search should be
documented so that:
◦ It is transparent and reproducible
◦ It can be evaluated
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Describe in detail all searches, including:
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Bibliographic databases
Internet/grey literature
Hand-searching
Contact with experts
Good practice to document the search whilst doing
it rather than retrospectively!
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Database or resource searched
Database service provider or URL
Date of search
Date span of search
The search strategy itself, in full
Number of records identified
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Database or resource e.g. Medline, PubMed,
CEA Registry etc
The database service provider e.g. Ovid,
EBSCO, ISI Web of knowledge etc
The website/organisation providing the
resource e.g. www.cearegistry.org
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Date of the search
Date of the database or resource (inception to
latest update)
Not always easy to find the latest update date
– might have to do a bit further investigation
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Ideally, reproduce the search strategy directly
from the search interface (If using PubMed
each search listed in Advanced area as you
search, copy & paste! )
May prefer to edit strategies for consistency
and/or readability
May want to annotate and provide key to
symbols/commands used
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Flow charts e.g. PRISMA flow diagram,
template at:
http://www.prisma-statement.org/statement.htm
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Tables
Or simply in the search strategy itself (As you
search in PubMed number of ‘Items found’
are listed in Advanced area)
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Should not simply be a technical exercise – it
is an opportunity to justify decisions made
when developing the search strategy
 Why certain limits were introduced
 Why methodological filters were not used
 Why particular databases were not searched
 How search terms were derived
 Describe the conceptual breakdown of the search
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Always write up in full (record absolutely
everything) while undertaking the searches
It is often not possible to include everything
in the main body of the final report, and
certainly not in a journal article
But should be able to include details in
appendices or at least be able to refer reader
to the full search strategies
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See HTA reports, Cochrane reviews and NICE
guidance evidence reports
CRD guidance
http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/crd/index_guid
ance.htm
Cochrane Handbook
http://handbook.cochrane.org/
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Email: [email protected]
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