You should always document how you have searched each database, what keywords or index terms were used, the date on which the search was performed, how many results you retrieved, and if you use RefWorks to deduplicate results record how many were removed as duplicates and the final number of discrete studies you subjected to your first sift through of study selection. Here is an example of how to document a literature search on an Excel spreadsheet, this example records a search of the hematology literature for articles about sickle cell disease. Here is another example of how to document a literature search, this time on one page of a Word document, this example records a search of the medical literature for a poster on Emergency Department throughput. The numbers recorded can then be used to populate the PRISMA flow diagram summarizing the literature search.
In the final report add as an appendix the full electronic search strategy for one database e.g. MEDLINE with MeSH terms, keywords & limits
In the final report in the methods section:
PRISMA checklist Item 7 information sources will be reported as:
PRISMA checklist Item 8 search will be reported as:
No one database can search all the medical literature. Searching is an iterative process, and you will need to search several different databases. That being said if you want to do a very quick search for existing systematic reviews on your topic, search PubMed Clinical Queries using simple keywords and look in the center column of results for a list of recent systematic reviews.
At a minimum you need to search MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane CENTRAL trials register. This is the recommendation of three medical and public health research organizations: the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the U.K. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD), and the International Cochrane Collaboration (Source: Institute of Medicine (2011) Finding What Works in Healthcare: Standards for Systematic Reviews Table E-1, page 267). Each database has an alternate version, linked in parentheses below, that search the same records. You should reformat your search for each database as appropriate, contact your librarian if you want help on how to search each database. In addition you should search the clinicaltrials.gov database if the subject of your search is an FDA regulated drug or medical device. You should also search other subject specific databases that index the literature in your field. Use our Himmelfarb Library research guides to identify other subject specific databases.
Begin by searching:
Other member of your investigative team may have ideas about databases, websites, and journals they think you should search. You may need to reformat your search keywords but always follow your search strategy.
You might consider searching one or more of the following websites depending on your topic:
Clinical trial registers. The Cochrane Collaboration recommends for a systematic review to search both clinicaltrials.gov and the WHO ICTRP (See http://handbook.cochrane.org/ section 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124):
Grey literature resources:
Dissertations and Theses:
Most conference proceedings are difficult to find because they may or may not be published. Only select individual papers may be made available in print as a book, journal, or series, rather than all of the presented items. Societies and Associations may only publish abstracts, or extended abstracts, from a conference, often in an annual supplement to an issue of the journal of record of that professional society. Often posters are not published, if they are they may be made available only to other conference registrants at that meeting or online. Authors may "publish" their conference papers or posters on personal or institutional websites. A limited set of conference proceedings databases include the following: