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Introduction to search strategies for systematic reviews of interventions

This session is part of the Doctoral School Skills Development programme and is available to UCL postgraduate research students only. Places can be booked by logging in via the programme website.

This session aims to give students an insight into carrying out a structured, comprehensive, replicable search using biomedical sciences literature databases.

Participants will learn how to create a basic search to gauge the scope of existing research on their topic and then develop this into a search strategy appropriate for a systematic review. The session will focus on the Ovid SP interface to the Medline database, showing how to use appropriate terminology and notation. Other databases such as PubMed, the Cochrane Library and Web of Science will also be included and participants will learn how to translate search terms to reproduce their search strategy in different databases.

The session also considers additional methods for identifying appropriate papers for a systematic review; how to evaluate a search strategy; and how to document the search.

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Conduct a preliminary scoping search to gauge the range and depth of existing research on your research idea.
  • Create a list of appropriate keywords and terms to use in developing a comprehensive search.
  • Carry out a complex, systematic, reproducible search in the Medline database using thesauri and keyword searching, search filters, and other features.
  • Understand how to translate a Medline search strategy in order to replicate a search in other databases.
  • Evaluate your search strategy


Course participants should have either attended the Literature Searching and Databases for Biomedicine course, or have experience and understanding of the following:

  • How to access literature databases via the library website.
  • Subject headings and how to create a search strategy by combining subject headings and keywords.
  • How to use parentheses, truncation and phrase searching in a search strategy.
  • How to use the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT.
  • How to save a search strategy, create a search alert, and save search results in a literature database.
  • Some awareness of database limits or filters.
  • Some familiarity with PubMed, the Ovid SP interface, Web of Science and/or Scopus is desirable.

This session is also part of the Doctoral School Skills Development programme. Postgraduate research students at UCL should book a place by logging in via the programme website.

Please note, this session is at the Royal Free Hospital Medical Library, Rowland Hill Street, Hampstead, London. NW3 2PF. Please allow sufficient travelling time. Nearest tube: Belsize Park. Nearest rail: Hampstead Heath. You should allow at least 30 minutes if travelling from Bloomsbury.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
9:00am - 12:30pm
Large TESA
Royal Free Hospital Medical Library
  UCL research student     UCL staff     UCL taught course student  
  Databases     Searching for information  
Registration has closed.

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