Literaure searching for systematic reviews


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Literaure searching for systematic reviews

  1. 1. Literature searching for systematic reviews RDF InformationLiteracy
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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 Finding unpublished research RDF InformationLiteracy Finding unpublished research is not so easy, but there are some good places to start • Trials registers – to identify trials currently in progress • Conference proceedings •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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 12. Further reading RDF InformationLiteracy Both Cochrane and the CRD at York produce comprehensive guides to conducting systematic reviews •!S SL!/WebHelp/SysRev3.htm •