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University of Washington Health Sciences Library

Systematic Reviews and other evidence synthesis projects

Document Your Search Strategies

Keep track of your searching process in your preferred word-processing program. This will make it much easier to write your review. The better records you keep during this phase, the less stressful it will be to write your methods and results sections.

For your search in each database, record:

  • database name and platform (Example: CINAHL on EBSCO; Embase on Elsevier)
  • date the search was run
  • years covered in the search
  • exact search strategy used, including any filters
  • number of records retrieved

Write Up your Search Methods

These resources provide guidance for how to report and write up your search process, including searches for grey literature.

PRISMA for Searching: comprehensive guidance on how to report your search methods, including a checklist and full explanatory paper.

See Appendix 3: Documenting the Search Process in Systematic Reviews: CRD's guidance for undertaking reviews in health care. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. January 2009.

Searching for and Selecting Studies chapter of the Cochrane Handbook.

For additional models of search methodology reporting, refer to see other guidelines in Guides for Conducting Systematic Reviews.

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