Develop a search strategy
Decide on how much and what type of information you need to:
- develop exclusion and inclusion criteria, such as:
- will you reject (exclude) certain types of interventions? If so,WHY?
- will you reject studies with certain types of research design? If so, WHY?
- will you reject studies with certain types of participants? If so,WHY?
- decide on what databases you are going to use
- decide on what your search terms will be but be flexible - these may change as you progress
- sift through your search results and decide whether to keep or discard based on exclusion and inclusion criteria
- keep a note of what you do - use our Literature search strategy template This is a word document so you can download and edit it.
- you can then download the PRISMA flow chart and fill in the details using the information on your template
You can find more detailed information in our systematic reviewing pages.
Here are some examples of successful search strategies, they are stored on GCULearn so you will need to log in:
- Topic: the influence of psychosocial factors on low back pain. The search is repeated in 3 databases; Cinahl, Medline and AMED. Have a look at the use of Boolean terms (and, or, not), truncation and MeSH.
- Topic: the role of control beliefs in the levels of distress in family members of people with dementia. This was part of a PhD study.
- Topic: the management of ankle sprains. This systematic review compares a variety of interventions, which you do not have to do, as you at most will compare 2 interventions. It was published in the Australian Journal of Physiotherapy.
- This literature search strategy is part of a systematic review was published in the Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal.
- Topic: interventions to prevent falls in the elderly in the community published by the Cochrane Collaboration, who represent the gold standard for systematic reviews of randomised controlled trial studies. It includes both the description and the actual literature search strategy.
SMILE - Writing a critical review by Steve Draper, Glasgow University, Dr Jane McKay, GCU modified by Marion Kelt, Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/resources/crs.html.