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Topic: Systematic Searching for Evidence Synthesis

What Makes a Search Systematic?

Conducting any literature search is a thoughtful and detailed process. What makes systematic searching different?

A systematic search is:

  • Comprehensive or exhaustive: it should should be as thorough as possible to avoid missing any relevant information.
  • Transparent: it should be clear what choices you made in designing your search strategy, and why you made them.
  • Well-documented and reproducible: as with the methods for any research study, readers should be able to replicate your work. That means the search strategy for each place you searched should be provided in full.

A systematic search is essential to any quality evidence synthesis project.

This guide is intended as an introduction to the principles and practices of systematic searching. It also offers guidance for systematic searching in some popular research databases. It is not comprehensive, but it should provide an excellent basis for designing and executing a systematic search.

Designing Effective Systematic Searches: Tips and Strategies

The video below offers an introduction to the principles of systematic searching and some advice for constructing those searches.