JBI recommends following a three-step search strategy:
|The first step is an initial limited search of at least two appropriate online databases relevant to the topic (such as MEDLINE and Scopus).|
|This initial search is then followed by an analysis of the text words contained in the title and abstract of retrieved papers, and of the index terms (subject headings) used to describe the articles. A second "systematic search" using all identified keywords and index terms should then be undertaken across all included databases.|
|Third, the reference list of identified reports and articles should be searched for additional studies. This stage may examine the reference lists of all identified studies or examine solely the reference lists of the studies that have been selected from full-text and/or included in the review.|
This page explains how to undertake the second step: the systematic database searches.
When searching for a scoping review:
Remember: a scoping search is an iterative process! You will need to constantly evaluate, validate, and verify your search results.
Your search strategy should be:
|Step 1: Map your research question|
A tightly focused research question is key to your search. Make sure you have mapped your review questions using PCC, and refined the parameters in a clearly articulated protocol. You can then use your PCC breakdown to build your search strategy. For each term, list all relevant alternative keywords and relevant subject headings, using Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).
Learn more about this process by watching the video below.
Video Length: 4:58
|Step 2: Choose where to search|
To cover the published literature you need to search a range of key databases. These should be detailed in your protocol. Remember that you should also consider searching unpublished or alternatively published materials, called grey literature.
Learn more about which databases to search by watching the video below.
Video Length: 3:56
|Step 3: Run your search in MEDLINE|
It's a good idea to build your initial search in MEDLINE. Be sure to use both keywords and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).
For each PCC element:
4. Repeat this for each PCC element.
5. Finally, combine all of your 'overall set lines' together with AND. This will find results that address all of your PCC elements:
This tutorial will demonstrate how to correctly translate your PCC breakdown into a MEDLINE search.
|Step 4: Run your search in other databases|
After completing your MEDLINE search, you should run it in other databases. Use the same search as your MEDLINE search, tweaked only as much as necessary for it to work in the new database. This means you may need to:
If you discover new terms in your additional database searching, these should be added to all searches to maintain consistency and comprehensiveness. This may mean revisiting earlier databases to look up any additional subject headings.
If changing to a database on a different interface, also:
|This tutorial demonstrates how to correctly remap your MEDLINE search to another Ovid database.||This tutorial shows you how to remap your
MEDLINE search to the Cochrane Library.
|Step 5: Review your results|
Review your results for relevancy by considering how well each paper matches:
Test your search for comprehensiveness
From your 'initial limited' searching, you would have identified some key articles that you expect to find as part of your review. Use these key articles to test your search's comprehensiveness. Are these articles appearing in your search results? If not, are they:
This can help you to identify additional terms for your search.
Also make sure you have:
checked your search combinations (and, or).
Use Table 2: Elements for the peer review of electronic search strategies checklist (p. 153):
Ovid Search Launcher allows you to enter your search in plain text, and run it in any UniSA-subscribed database on Ovid.
The Launcher provides a quick and easy way to edit your searches - move the position of search lines, add and remove terms, etc.
Avoid inconvenient timeouts while editing on the Ovid platform, especially if working with longer, more complex strategies.
Simply paste a plain text version of your search strategy or search history into the search launcher, and from the 'Choose databases' drop down menu select the database you want to search, and then click outside the menu to retain your selection. The codes below align with the UniSA subscriptions. It is recommended to search one database at a time.
BrowZine™ allows you to easily access and browse journals available online via UniSA. Access via Library Website > Journals.
LibKey Nomad™ is a Google Chrome Extension that makes it easy to access journal articles anywhere on the internet.
|For instructions on how to install LibKey extension, watch this short video (1m20s).|
My Bookshelf is the place where you can organise your favorite journals and stay up to date in your field! You may rename and organise your "shelves" and "bookcases" however you'd like! This configuration will automatically sync to your other devices when you use the same login.
See the video below to learn how to add a journal to My bookshelf (11 mins)
The BrowZine Account is the system used to provide personalization features throughout the BrowZine ecosystem. Having a BrowZine Account is required for using My Bookshelf on all devices as it is used to tie together your different devices so you only need to configure My Bookshelf on one device and the configuration will sync seamlessly between them.
In most cases, you can use any email you would like! For libraries using the BrowZine Pairing Service, you may be restricted to using only your university/company email address. BrowZine will alert you to this fact if you try to use another email at one of these accounts automatically.
No, you do not have to have an account to use BrowZine. You can still browse the shelves, look up titles, read tables of contents, and download articles. However, in order to use the personalization feature of My Bookshelf and My Articles, a BrowZine account is required so that we can synchronize and back-up your data across all devices and ensure that we keep your device accurately updated.
The following sections of this guide explore the process of systematic searching in more detail. Select the links below to go to the relevant page.