Documenting Your Search
This feature might help identify sentinel or ‘don’t miss’ articles. While all literature reviews support research, their specific functions and relation to that research vary. Several methods of classifying literature reviews have been proposed. These classifications inform the research and writing of a literature review. As you begin to collect articles during your literature search, it is important to store them in an organized fashion. Most research databases include personalized accounts for storing selected references and search strategies.
The conceptual approach, advocated by and explained in the guidance documents, relies on the expertise of the literature searcher to identify key search terms and then develop key terms to include synonyms and controlled syntax. Hausner and colleagues set out the objective approach and describe what may be done to validate it . Together with the guidance, this would suggest that comprehensive literature searching requires the use of BOTH bibliographic database searching AND supplementary search methods.
For your search, you will need to consult a variety of resources to find information on your topic. While some of these resources will overlap, each also contains unique information that you won’t find in other databases. CC conceived the idea for this study and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. CC discussed this publication in PhD supervision with AB and separately with JVC.
The Cochrane Handbook reported that ‘efforts’ to identify unpublished studies should be made . Four guidance documents acknowledged that searching beyond bibliographic databases was necessary since ‘databases are not the only source of literature’ . Only one document reported any guidance on determining when to use supplementary methods. The IQWiG handbook reported that the use of handsearching could be determined on a ‘case-by-case basis’ which implies that the use of these methods is optional rather than mandatory. This is in contrast to the guidance on bibliographic database searching. Three documents summarised guidance on where to search to determine if a new review was justified .
To choose search terms, look again at the search topic that was developed in Step 1. Overlooking the importance of using the right keywords and phrases relevant to the topic means that you could miss important information due to a weak search query. Barbara Wilson and Mary-Jean Austria | 4 minutes EBP, or evidence-based practice, is a term we encounter frequently in today’s health care environment.