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Systematic Reviews

Documenting the Search Process

Systematic review searches must be documented in sufficient detail to allow others to be able to assess the thoroughness of the search. You will need to keep track of:

  • Each database searched, together with the platform searched via (eg. OVID Medline, OVID PsycINFO, CSA Sociological Abstracts)
  • The date each search were conducted
  • Subject headings and keywords used – including whether terms were exploded, truncated, etc
  • Search history, including the combination of terms
  • Number of results retrieved for each search and combination
  • Total number of records
  • Duplicates identified
  • Numbers pre-screening and post-screening

In addition, all searches conducted via handsearching must identify the source (name of journal, conference proceedings, etc), plus the years.