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Evidence Syntheses & Systematic Reviews: Search & Document

Methods Documentation


  • Develop data management plan and file naming standards at outset.

Develop and Register Protocol

Best practice is to register your protocol (search question/plan) prior to conducting your Systematic Review. You may also search these registries to see if your review is currently underway.

Use Evidence Synthesis Protocol Template for guidance on created a protocol

Document Search

Important step that helps when writing up your report. 

  • Resources searched 
    • Database and platform
    • Other resources
    • Other methods used
  • Exact search string
    • Copy & paste 
  • Date search was conducted
  • Number of results
  • Notes for self on search 

PRISMA Guidelines

Search Term Generation Tools & More

Keyword Generation - Brainstorming 

When generating keywords to search consider (in addition to known scientific terminology)

  • Author supplied keywords
  • Controlled Vocabulary
  • British spelling
  • Common misspellings
  • Colloquial terminology
  • Abbreviations

Keyword Generation - Tools

Other Search Methods

Citation Chaining

  • Look through reference list of article of interest.
  • Use resources to find more recent articles that cited article of interest.


  • Search through journals from cover to cover.


  • Useful for finding government or professional reports.