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Systematic and Rapid Reviews: Managing search results

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

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Managing your references

We recommend using reference management software to organise, sort and reference when writing.

At Swansea University Libraries we support EndNote, both the online and desktop versions.

Both versions help you to store and organise your references and format them in Word.

Documenting your literature search

PRISMA recommends description of  all information sources in the search (e.g., databases with dates of coverage, contact with study authors to identify additional studies or data) and date last searched along with the full electronic search strategy for at least one major database, including any limits used, such that it could be repeated. This is usually represented as a flow diagram.

PRISMA-S is an extension to and is a checklist documenting each element of the search to ensure reproducibility. This should be used by researchers for systematic reviews.

When documenting the search the Centre for Reviews & Dissemination recommend the following: Documenting the search

"The search process should be reported in sufficient detail so that it could be re-run at a later date. The easiest way to document the search is to record the process and the results contemporaneously. The decisions reached during development and any changes or amendments made should be recorded and explained. It is important to record all searches, including Internet searches, handsearching and contact with experts.

Providing the full detail of searches helps future researchers to re-run or update the searches and enables readers to evaluate the thoroughness of searching. The write up of the search should include information about the databases and interfaces searched (including the dates covered), full detailed search strategies (including any justifications for date or language restrictions) and the number of records retrieved.

When systematic reviews are reported in journal articles, limits on the word count may make it impossible to provide full details of the searches. In these circumstances as much information as possible should be provided within the available space. For example, ‘We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL’ is more helpful to the reader than ‘We conducted computer searches’. Many journals now have an electronic version of the publication where the full search details can be provided. Alternatively, the published report can include the review team’s contact details so full details of the search strategies can be requested. If a detailed report is being written for the commissioners of the review, the full search details should be included."

University of York, NHS Centre for Reviews & Dissemination. (2009). Systematic reviews: CRD's guidance for undertaking reviews in health care. York: CRD.

Saving & updating searches

Systematic review software