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Systematic review searching

A resource to assist Flinders University staff and students undertaking systematic reviews

Reporting the search strategy

These resources describe the elements that should be reported in any published systematic review. 

The PRISMA flow diagram

The PRISMA Flow Diagram (below) depicts the flow of information through the different phases of a systematic review. It maps out the number of records identified, included and excluded, and the reasons for exclusions.

Use the PRISMA Flow Diagram to graphically document your search results for publication. An editable Word version is available here.

You could also try using the PRISMA Flow Diagram Generator which allows you to produce and subsequently modify a diagram in any of 10 different formats.

Clear examples of how to record search strategies for databases, grey literature, and hand searches are provided in the CRD document 'Systematic reviews'.

For each database you search, record the following for reporting:

  • The name of the database searched
    e.g. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

  • Version/issue of database (if relevant)
    e.g. Issue 2 of 12, February 2015 or (1946-present)

  • The name of the database provider/system used
    e.g. OvidSP Medline

  • The date on which you ran the search

  • The full strategy used
    This should include limits applied and the number of citations retrieved.
    To record the full strategy, cut and paste the Search History box (or search string) for each search conducted into a Word document along with the details above. This should show the search terms used, how they were entered and combined, and the number of citations retrieved.

For example:

OvidSP Medline (1946 to present) was searched on 5 September 2015.

#

Searches

Results

      1

  Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee/

12398

2

  (Knee joint/ or Knee/) and Arthroplasty/

866

3

  Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip/

16571

4

  (Hip Joint/ or Hip/) and Arthroplasty/

1366

5

  hip prosthesis/ or knee prosthesis/

25770

6

  ((knee* or hip*) adj4 (replacement* or arthroplast* or prosthe*)).mp.

50435

7

  OR/1-6

51418

8

  Tranexamic Acid/

1929

9

  (Tranexamic acid or Cyklokapron or Transamin or Cyclo-F or Femstrual or    Transcam or Traxyl or Espercil or Kapron).mp.

2507

10

  OR/8-9

2507

11

  Dose-Response Relationship, Drug/ or exp drug administration routes/ or exp drug administration schedule/ or drug dosage calculations/ or Treatment outcome/

1396703

12

  ad.fs.

1102658

13

  (Dose* or Dosage* or route* or administat* or schedul* or timing* or deliver* or applicat* or preparation* or procedur* or method*).mp.

6257482

14

  OR/11-13

7012355

15

  7 and 10 and 14

122

16

  limit 15 to (English language and humans)

104

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

Note: / = search on MeSH terms; .mp. = search on title, abstract, MeSH term fields; .fs. = free-floating subheading search; adj = adjacency operator; * = truncation symbol.

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