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Systematic reviews: Search protocols

Search protocol

A search protocol is a way to document the search process.

The search protocol can also be used as a log book throughout the search and its many phases.

Add the search protocol as an appendix/supplementary literature to you article.

Documentation of the search

It is important that you document your search(es) so they in principle are reproducible and explicitly reflect your search in the various databases.

The detail in which you can register your search is dependent on the source you search in.  As a minimum, the documentation must include:

  • Which databases you have searched.
  • The date you performed the searches.
  • The search terms - and how you combined and applied them (Boolean operators, use of truncation, delimitation of search fields, etc.).
  • Delimitation by language, year of publication, etc.,).
  • The search result (number of references).

Save your search

By creating an account in the database or source you are searching in, you can save your searches. This means you have your search history, can retrieve updates or alerts to the search and can automatically re-run the search just before you submit your SR to ensure you have included the latest information in your article.