Manchester Metropolitan University homepage
Library homepage

Systematic Reviews

Documenting your search results

Depending on the type of review, it may be necessary to document both the search process that you have undertaken and record the results of your searches. Recording and demonstrating your search strategy or methodology is useful for:

  • Providing clarity to the reader about your research methods
  • Justifying your research process
  • Helping you not to repeat work you’ve already done

It should allow for as much detail as required by your project and so that your search process and results could be theoretically reproduced for verification by your reader. It may include:

  • The names and details of the databases you searched (eg Medline, CINAHL etc).
  • Any limits applied to your searches (e.g date ranges, languages, types of publications)
  • You may also need to include details of any other sources you used, such as grey literature (e.g websites and conference proceedings etc).
  • Any organisations or individuals you contacted directly to source your evidence.

Some databases will contain a search builder or advanced searching features, with the ability to save or export the search terms and search results.

Search records

Search records can be shown in various different formats, depending on your research and the requirements of your project. Your funding body, publisher or supervisor may have a preferred format. You may wish to consult with the appropriate person before designing your own method.

This guide provides different ways of recording your searches and search results, but a combination of different formats might be required, depending on your approach.

PRISMA

You can demonstrate your searching and how you arrived at your final papers to be included (as well as indicating excluded papers) in your review by using a PRISMA flowchart template. PRISMA stands for the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses.

The PRISMA website contains further information about PRISMA, including a flowchart and checklist. 

This example has been created using the PRISMA flowchart template. 

undefined

Diagram reproduced from Galvin, E.C, Wills, T. and Coffey, A. (2017) 'Readiness for hospital discharge: a concept analysis.' Journal of Advanced Nursing, 73(1) pp. 2547-2557

Searches Database and results    
  CINAHL (EBSCOhost) Medline (EBSCOHost) SCOPUS
("end of life" OR "palliative care" OR "cancer care" OR terminal OR dying OR death) AND ("Care home" OR "residential care" OR "nursing home" OR "nursing care" OR "domestic care" OR hospice) AND ("pressure ulcer" OR bedsore OR "decubitus ulcer" OR "pressure sore" OR "pressure wound")  131 110 214
("end of life" OR "palliative care" OR "cancer care" OR terminal OR dying OR death) AND ("Care home" OR "residential care" OR "nursing home" OR "nursing care" OR "domestic care" OR hospice) AND ("pressure ulcer" OR bedsore OR "decubitus ulcer" OR "pressure sore" OR "pressure wound") AND (qualitative OR mixed methods OR observation OR interviews OR ethnography) 13 7 8
("end of life" OR "palliative care" OR "cancer care" OR terminal OR dying OR death) AND ("Care home" OR "residential care" OR "nursing home" OR "nursing care" OR "domestic care" OR hospice) AND ("pressure ulcer" OR bedsore OR "decubitus ulcer" OR "pressure sore" OR "pressure wound") AND (quantitative OR questionnaire OR survey OR statistic*) 54 41 76

 

Date of search Searches Filter used Database No. of records Excluded by abstract Excluded by full text Results retained
18/04/20 ("end of life" OR "palliative care" OR "cancer care" OR terminal OR dying OR death) AND ("Care home" OR "residential care" OR "nursing home" OR "nursing care" OR "domestic care" OR hospice) AND ("pressure ulcer" OR bedsore OR "decubitus ulcer" OR "pressure sore" OR "pressure wound")     2010-2020; English; Journal Articles CINAHL EBSCO 130 20 100 10
21/04/20 ("end of life" OR "palliative care" OR "cancer care" OR terminal OR dying OR death) AND ("Care home" OR "residential care" OR "nursing home" OR "nursing care" OR "domestic care" OR hospice) AND ("pressure ulcer" OR bedsore OR "decubitus ulcer" OR "pressure sore" OR "pressure wound") AND (qualitative OR mixed methods OR observation OR interviews OR ethnography) 2010-2020; English; Journal Articles Medline EBSCO 96 87 7 2
21/04/20 ("end of life" OR "palliative care" OR "cancer care" OR terminal OR dying OR death) AND ("Care home" OR "residential care" OR "nursing home" OR "nursing care" OR "domestic care" OR hospice) AND ("pressure ulcer" OR bedsore OR "decubitus ulcer" OR "pressure sore" OR "pressure wound") AND (quantitative OR questionnaire OR survey OR statistic*) 2010-2020; English; Journal Articles SCOPUS 54 37 12 5

 

CINAHL (EBSCOhost)

S1 (MH "Aspirin")
S2 TX aspirin
S3 TX "acetylsalicylic acid"
S4 S1 or S2 or S3
S5 TX dementia*
S6 (MH "Dementia, Vascular") OR (MH "Dementia, Multi-Infarct")
S7 TX VaD
S8 TX vascular cognitive impairment*
S9 TX VCI
S10 S5 or S6 or S7 or S8 or S9
S11 S4 and S10
S12 EM 2008
S13 EM 2009
S14 EM 2010
S15 EM 2011
S16 S12 or S13 or S14 or S15
S17 S11 and S16

25 results retrieved


The complete example can be found in the appendix of Rand, G. and Orrell, M. (2000) 'Aspirin for vascular dementia.' Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 4:CD001296, pp. 1-13. [Online] [Accessed on 8th April 2020] https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001296/epdf/full

SCOPUS

Searched 18 July 2012
1,147 records retrieved

("end of life" OR "palliative care" OR "cancer care" OR terminal OR dying OR death) AND ("Care home" OR "residential care" OR "nursing home" OR "nursing care" OR "domestic care" OR hospice) AND ("pressure ulcer" OR bedsore OR "decubitus ulcer" OR "pressure sore" OR "pressure wound") AND (qualitative OR mixed methods OR observation OR interviews OR ethnography)

12 relevant results