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Systematic review: Literature Search

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A Systematic Search

A systematic search to retrieve information:

  1. Search at least two, preferably three databases
  2. Use both subject terms and free-text words
  3. Combine synonymous searches into search blocks
  4. Is transparent and detailed enough to repeat by someone else
  5. Produces a defined search result that is possible to screen

How to make a systematic search step by step

1. Break down your question into concepts

2. Choose relevant databases, more than one

3. Make a "quick and dirty" search

4. Look at the subject terms for the articles you find interesting

5. Use the thesaurus to find more subject terms

6. “Brainstorm” for more search Terms

7. Search every Search Term one at a time

8. Broaden your search with OR within the Search Blocks

9. Combine the different Search Blocks with AND

10. Choose limits

11. Look at all of the result  - Related citations?  Missed anything?

12. Start all over...

Block/concept search

A systematic search in PubMed

A power point presentation about how you break down your question into concepts (search blocks).

Search Filters

Search filters, sometimes also called hedges, can be used to limit your database search to a certain type of studies, for example studydesign. The following search filters are all assessed and evaluated.