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J Med Libr Assoc. 2005 Jan;93(1):74-80.

Systematic reviews need systematic searchers.

Author information

1
Ottawa Health Research Institute/Institute of Population Health University of Ottawa Ottawa K1N 6N5 Canada. jmcgowan@uottawa.ca

Abstract

PURPOSE:

This paper will provide a description of the methods, skills, and knowledge of expert searchers working on systematic review teams.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION:

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are very important to health care practitioners, who need to keep abreast of the medical literature and make informed decisions. Searching is a critical part of conducting these systematic reviews, as errors made in the search process potentially result in a biased or otherwise incomplete evidence base for the review. Searches for systematic reviews need to be constructed to maximize recall and deal effectively with a number of potentially biasing factors. Librarians who conduct the searches for systematic reviews must be experts.

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION:

Expert searchers need to understand the specifics about data structure and functions of bibliographic and specialized databases, as well as the technical and methodological issues of searching. Search methodology must be based on research about retrieval practices, and it is vital that expert searchers keep informed about, advocate for, and, moreover, conduct research in information retrieval. Expert searchers are an important part of the systematic review team, crucial throughout the review process-from the development of the proposal and research question to publication.

PMID:
15685278
PMCID:
PMC545125
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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