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Documenting Your Work

What to Document

  • Documentation is important.
  • As an investigator you must document search information for the final paper
  • Search strategies should be detailed enough that the searches are reproducible
  • Document:
    • complete reproducible search strategies
    • databases searched and dates of coverage
    • date searches were run, including any updates
    • grey literature sources searched
    • other search techniques - hand searching, scanning bibliographies of pertinent authors, contacting experts
    • individuals of organizations contacted
    • number or unique citations retrieved from searches
    • number of duplicates identified

Saving and Updating the Search

  • It is important to save your search strategies for reproducibility, transparency, and inclusion in your systematic review manuscript.
  • Databases provide the option to save search strategies and update a search when necessary. Examples: 
    • PubMed/My NCBI - Saves searches and results, and features an option to automatically update and e-mail search results from your saved searches. You can also save collections of articles, and rerun saved searches to update them. MyNCBI displays a list of your saved searches indefinitely. Free registration is required.
    • Embase - Save searches and create email alerts. Free registration is required. To save a search in Embase, run the search, click on save, save to a folder.  To create an RSS feed or an email alert, mouse over the results number, click set rss feed, or set email alert.

Managing Your Search Retrieval and Analysis

  • Use bibliographic management software such as EndNote to:
    • maintain a searchable database of references related to the systematic review
    • store all references selected for the systematic review and identify duplicate references
    • store all discarded references
    • create citations and bibliography when writing up the results of the SR
  • The librarian you work with, or librarians on staff can:
    • help you to use bibliographic management software such as EndNote to store your systematic review references
    • send you EndNote libraries of references found in literature searches for your systematic review
    • conduct classes for your review group, and be available for personal tutorials in your lab or office.