Search Strategy

A search strategy is a systematically designed query used to retrieve information from bibliographic databases. It can refer to a specific query within a single database or a broader approach adapted for use across multiple sources. The methodology and details of the search strategy are typically described in the methodology sections of scientific papers, with comprehensive database searches often included as an appendix.

Key aspects of a search strategy include:

– Design and Complexity: Search strategies can range from simple queries to complex, multi-faceted searches, depending on the scope and objectives of the research.

– Range of Sources: Effective search strategies involve identifying and utilizing a range of sources, including various databases, to ensure comprehensive coverage of the literature. Commonly used databases include PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, and others relevant to the field of study.

– Publication Types: The strategy should specify the types of publications being sought, such as peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, dissertations, or grey literature, to ensure the retrieval of relevant and high-quality information.

– Methodology Description: In scientific papers, the methodology section should describe:

– Databases Used: Listing all databases and information sources included in the search.

– Search Terms and Queries: Detailed presentation of the search terms, operators, and filters used in each database.

– Date Range: Specifying the time frame covered by the search.

– Language Restrictions: Noting any language limitations applied to the search.

– Documentation: The complete search strategy or a representative sample is often provided as an appendix in research papers to allow replication and validation of the search process. This transparency ensures the robustness and reliability of the literature review.

– Additional Retrieval Methods: Besides database searches, other methods include:

– Hand-Searching: Manually reviewing specific publications or journals that are particularly relevant.

– Citation Searching: Tracking citations from key articles to find additional relevant studies.

– Expert Advice: Consulting with subject matter experts to identify critical literature or sources that may not be readily accessible through databases.

A well-designed search strategy is crucial for ensuring the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the literature review, forming the foundation for evidence-based research and systematic reviews.