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Systematic Reviews

Documenting Your Search

Your search strategy should be clearly documented so that it can be recorded correctly in the systematic review and reproduced for verification.

For each of the databases searched you need to record:

  • The date the search was run
  • The database name
  • The name of the database provider (for example: Ovid or EBSCO)
  • Your search strategy - include the search terms and keywords you used and how these were combined in the search
  • The years searched
  • Any filters or limitations used, such as date, language, age or demographics
  • The number of studies identified

It is a good idea to save your search strategies in the databases you use so you can refer back to them later. Databases such as Medline, Embase, Scopus, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, PsycINFO and Cochrane have this feature.

Use a template spreadsheet to record these details - like this Search audit template [Excel spreadsheet]  from Cochrane's EPOC resources  for Authors