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Systematic Reviews

Systematic Searches #1: Introduction

This series of tutorials cover the fundamental concepts and general procedure of searching the health science literature in a systematic manner. They will mainly focus on systematic searches required by a "systematic review". The goal of these tutorials is to ensure that your search is comprehensive, methodical, transparent and reproducible, so that your conclusions are as unbiased and closer to truth as possible. This first video of the series introduces the concept of "systematic review" and makes a rough comparison between a search done for a systematic review and an ordinary literature search.

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Systematic Searches #2: Conducting a systematic review

To put the rest of the videos in perspective, this video shows the typical process of a systematic review, and where searching fits in the big picture.

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Systematic Searches #3: Preparing for a Systematic Search

This video demonstrates a number of tasks reviewers usually do before performing a full-scale systematic search. For example, a preliminary search is usually conducted to find out if anyone else has done a review on the topic before. Reviewers also do "scoping" searches or "pearl-growing" searches to better understand existing primary studies on the topic. These techniques also help develop a list of search terms that can be used in the full-scale search. Finally this video gives examples of online databases, which reviewers may search depending on the subjects of their topics.

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Systematic Searches #4: Building Search Strategies (Part I)

This is the first of several videos demonstrating how to build good search strategies in databases. This video introduces basic concepts in searching, such as controlled vocabularies. This video uses PubMed and MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) in its example searches.

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Systematic Searches #5: Building Search Strategies (Part II)

This video continues to introduce basic concepts in building searching strategies, such as free-text (natural language) searching, phrase searching, truncation, Boolean logic, and limits. This video continues to use PubMed as the example database.

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Systematic Searches #6: Building Search Strategies (Part III)

This and the next videos continue to demonstrate, using OvidSP MEDLINE as the example database, the basic concepts in building searching strategies. It also introduces OvidSP's unique command line query syntax and a number of search features that are not available in PubMed, such as wildcard searching and adjacency / proximity searching.

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Systematic Searches #7: Building Search Strategies (Part IV)

This video continues to demonstrate, using OvidSP MEDLINE as the example database, the basic concepts in building searching strategies. In particular, proximity searches with the positional operator, frequency searches with the frequency operator, Boolean searches with the Boolean operators, and the various limit options in OvidSP are demonstrated.

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Systematic Searches #8: Building Search Strategies (Part V)

This video continues to demonstrate, using the Web of Science and Scopus as the example databases, the basic concepts in building searching strategies. Unlike PubMed and OvidSP MEDLINE, these databases do not support a controlled vocabulary system.

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Systematic Searches #9: Using Filters and Hedges

Filters and hedges are prefab search strategies that can help you quickly search databases for articles on certain topics or those with certain study designs. This tutorial introduces the concept of filters and hedges, their validation process, and where to find existing filters and hedges.

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Systematic Searches #10: Finding Gray Literature

An exhaustive literature search, especially one that leads to a systematic review, needs to include searches in gray literature, to overcome, or at least minimize, “publication bias” or “reporting bias”. This video introduces the rationale for searching gray literature, and the common types and sources of gray literature relevant to health science research.

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Systematic Searches #11: Validating, Verifying and Revising Your Searches

A systematic search is an iterative one. We need to constantly evaluate, validate, or verify our search results, and revise and re-run the searches if necessary. This video introduces techniques in validating, verifying and revising your searches.

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Yale MeSH Analyzer

This video introduces the "MeSH analysis grid" and demonstrates how to use the Yale MeSH Analyzer to automatically create a MeSH analysis grid. The MeSH analysis grid helps identify the reason why some known relevant articles are missing in the initial search result set, and serves as a "scoping search" tool to help identify potential new search terms and phrases.

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