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Literaure searching for systematic reviews


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  • 1. Literature searching for systematic reviews RDF InformationLiteracy
  • 2. Systematic reviews • “A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre- specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question” (Cochrane Library) RDF InformationLiteracy Cochrane Library (2013). About Cochrane Systematic Reviews and Protocols [online]. Available at: [accessed 19/7/2013].
  • 3. Publication bias RDF InformationLiteracy To avoid publication bias the search must pick up on: • All published research: • In major peer reviewed journals • In lesser known publications • Any non-published research • Non-English language materials
  • 4. Finding Published research RDF InformationLiteracy Searching for published research is the easy bit … • Major bibliographic databases e.g. Medline and Embase • Specialised databases e.g. PsycINFO for psychology and psychiatry • Trials registers • Hand checking reference lists of relevant articles • Citation searching – searching for articles that have cited relevant papers
  • 5. Finding unpublished research RDF InformationLiteracy Finding unpublished research is not so easy, but there are some good places to start • Trials registers – to identify trials currently in progress • Conference proceedings • Dissertations • Contacting authors / experts • Searching the websites or repositories of professional societies, relevant organisations and academic institutions
  • 6. Resources RDF InformationLiteracy The University of York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination provide a guide to useful resources for systematic review searches g_studies_for_systematic_reviews.pdf
  • 7. Search strategies RDF InformationLiteracy • The search needs to be highly sensitive to ensure nothing is missed • It’s better to be too broad and exclude studies later than miss out on something relevant • The search strategy needs to be documented
  • 8. Search strategies RDF InformationLiteracy • Use PICO to break down your search strategy into concepts: • Patient / population • Intervention • Comparison • Outcome • You don’t need to use all parts of the PICO if it might restrict your search
  • 9. Search strategies RDF InformationLiteracy • Identify all possible terms • Think about synonyms, abbreviations, acronyms, spelling variants • Use both free text searching and controlled vocabularies (e.g. MeSH) • Look at how relevant papers have been indexed to identify terms • Look at search strategies of relevant papers to identify keywords
  • 10. Search strategies RDF InformationLiteracy • Use operators to combine your searches: • OR to combine related terms, synonyms etc. • AND to combine all your concepts together • ADJ or NEAR for terms in close proximity • Search filters can be used in some databases to identify particular types of study e.g. randomised controlled trials
  • 11. Summary RDF InformationLiteracy When carrying out a literature search for a systematic review you must: • Search all relevant databases and other resources • Find unpublished material • Consider all possible terminology • Ensure that your search is broad, systematic and comprehensive
  • 12. Further reading RDF InformationLiteracy Both Cochrane and the CRD at York produce comprehensive guides to conducting systematic reviews •!S SL!/WebHelp/SysRev3.htm •