You can use bibliographic management software such as EndNote to manage your search results. This allows you to:
Note: It is important to keep your EndNote library safe and backed up as you will need to refer back to it through the review process and for reporting.
When you have finalised your search strategy:
Note: The same article might appear in multiple databases. You will need to remove duplicates before you move on to the screening part of your review.
Capturing the metadata for your searches is a vital part of the high level review process. This is needed to ensure reproducibility.
The PRISMA framework lists the following as required. We use Medline here as an example:
Title of the database e.g. MEDLINE
Name of the database/interface e.g. Ovid
Date range of available resources in each database. e.g. 1946 to February 01, 2022
Date the search was conducted e.g. December 2021 to February 2022
Years covered by the search – list any date limits that were applied. e.g. 2015 - 2022
Complete search string (including all search terms and any limits)
Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) are reporting guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Often journals will ask you to report your systematic review results using PRISMA or another relevant reporting guideline.
If you are undertaking a scoping review you can access the PRISMA extension, PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR)
If you are undertaking an integrative review you are only required to fill out the PRISMA 2020 Flow Diagram .
There are some circumstances that will require you to update your searches. Some of these are:
There was a leave of absence during your conducting the review
According to the Cochrane Handbook 'The search must be rerun close to publication, if the initial search date is: more than 12 months (preferably six months) from the intended publication date, and the results screened for potentially eligible studies' - 4.4.10 Timing of searches . In addition, journals may require that searches are re-run before publication if it has been several months since initial searches were conducted.
Your review is an update of a previously available review
There are many reasons that a review may be updated, new studies being published or flaws being identified in the pre-existing review.
The reason for updating your search is to locate any newly published or indexed papers from within your chosen databases. This section of the guide will assist in reconducting the search without needing to redo the entire screening process. An important part of the search update process includes a review of the chosen subject headings and other set terms, in case of any changes to the databases.
We recommend that you set up database alerts on your search to ensure that you are made aware of new publications relevant to your search.
You will then receive regular updates via email or RSS (depending on the database) without the need to go back and repeat the search yourself.
Please visit our Alerting and Current Awareness Service Library Guide for further information.
De-duplication of database search results for systematic reviews in EndNote
Bramer, WM, Giustini, D, de Jong, G, Holland, L & Bakhuis, T 2016, Journal of the Medical Library Association, vol. 104, no. 3, pp. 240-243.
Cochrane Handbook: part 2, chapter 4.5: Documenting and reporting the search process
Covers recommendation on best practice for documenting the search process. Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR) is also covered in this chapter.
Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) website
The overarching website with links to the PRISMA 2020 statement, Checklist, Flow Diagram, as well as additional extensions and other information.
PRISMA 2020 Flow Diagram
‘The flow diagram 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. Different templates are available depending on the type of review (new or updated) and sources used to identify studies.’
PRISMA 2020 Flow Diagram generator
'This tool allows you to produce a flow diagram for your own review that conforms to the PRISMA2020 Statement.'
PRISMA checklist - PRISMA 2020
'...comprises a 27-item checklist addressing the introduction, methods, results and discussion sections of a systematic review report'.
CONSORT CONsolidated Standards Of Reporting Trials ‘is an evidence-based, minimum set of recommendations for reporting randomized trials’ Includes a 25 item checklist and a flow diagram
CONSORT 2010 statement: updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trials Schulz KF, Altman DG, Moher D, for the CONSORT Group. BMJ 2010;340:c332.
CONSORT 2010 Explanation and Elaboration: updated guidelines for reporting parallel group randomised trial Moher D, Hopewell S, Schulz KF, Montori V, Gøtzsche PC, Devereaux PJ, Elbourne D, Egger M, Altman DG, for the CONSORT Group. BMJ 2010;340:c869.
Meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology (MOOSE) Guidelines for meta-analyses and systematic reviews of observational studies
STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Statement of aims and links to check lists
Cochrane Handbook: part 1, chapter 4: Updating a review
Looks at the requirements and standards for updating a pre-existing review
When and how to update systematic reviews: consensus and checklist
Garner, P 2016, British Medical Journal, vol. 354, no. 8067, pp. i3507-i3517.
Updating search strategies for systematic reviews using EndNote
Bramer, Wichor & Bain, P 2017, Journal of the Medical Library Association, vol. 105, no. 3, pp. 285–289.