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Systematic Searching

Self-paced user guide with practical tips for researchers conducting systematic searching

Systematic Searching : Introduction

A systematic approach to organise and manage literature searching processes. Suggested steps:

  1. Formulate and define your research question
    - Block building, PICO or other frameworks
    - Mind mapping
  2. Find search terms, keywords, phrases
    - Find subject headings, sub-headings, thesaurus terms, synonyms, index terms
    - Highly relevant papers/ key papers – words in title/ abstract/ author keywords/ subject terms
    - Published search strategies e.g. in Systematic Reviews

  3. Develop search strategy
    - Consistent search strategy using Boolean operators, truncation, etc
    - Evaluate results and refine, think about your inclusion/ exclusion criteria
    - Retrieval of highly relevant/ key articles

  4. Selecting databases
    - Select relevant databases for an exhaustive/ comprehensive search,
    - Consider Grey literature or relevant websites or repositories relevant to the research topic

  5. Documenting search methods
    - Finalised search strategy, databases searched, filters/ limiters used (e.g. language, publication years), number of search results, date search performed
    PRISMA  can be used as a guide
    - Database personal account allows saved searches and creation of alerts for notification of new publications