A comparison of results of empirical studies of supplementary search techniques and recommendations in review methodology handbooks: a methodological review
© The Author(s). 2017. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
BACKGROUND: The purpose and contribution of supplementary search methods in systematic reviews is increasingly acknowledged. Numerous studies have demonstrated their potential in identifying studies or study data that would have been missed by bibliographic database searching alone. What is less certain is how supplementary search methods actually work, how they are applied, and the consequent advantages, disadvantages and resource implications of each search method. The aim of this study is to compare current practice in using supplementary search methods with methodological guidance. METHODS: Four methodological handbooks in informing systematic review practice in the UK were read and audited to establish current methodological guidance. Studies evaluating the use of supplementary search methods were identified by searching five bibliographic databases. Studies were included if they (1) reported practical application of a supplementary search method (descriptive) or (2) examined the utility of a supplementary search method (analytical) or (3) identified/explored factors that impact on the utility of a supplementary method, when applied in practice. RESULTS: Thirty-five studies were included in this review in addition to the four methodological handbooks. Studies were published between 1989 and 2016, and dates of publication of the handbooks ranged from 1994 to 2014. Five supplementary search methods were reviewed: contacting study authors, citation chasing, handsearching, searching trial registers and web searching. CONCLUSIONS: There is reasonable consistency between recommended best practice (handbooks) and current practice (methodological studies) as it relates to the application of supplementary search methods. The methodological studies provide useful information on the effectiveness of the supplementary search methods, often seeking to evaluate aspects of the method to improve effectiveness or efficiency. In this way, the studies advance the understanding of the supplementary search methods. Further research is required, however, so that a rational choice can be made about which supplementary search strategies should be used, and when.
This work was funded as part of a PenTAG NIHR Health Technology Assessment Grant.
This is the final version of the article. Available from BioMed Central via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 6, article 234
Place of publication
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Bessant, John; Stamm, Bettina von (Advanced Institute for Management Research, 2007)In a fast moving world, one of the biggest challenges facing organisations is dealing with discontinuous innovation (DI). Most organisations understand that innovation is an organisational imperative. They learn to listen ...
English Learner Underachievement: In Search of Essences and Meanings: A Phenomenological Study of Educator Experiences of Underachievement among English Learners in One Georgia Public School System Bowen, Irina (University of ExeterCollege of Social Sciences and International Studies/Graduate School of Education, 2015-08-13)The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand and describe the educators’ experiences of English learner underachievement. The overall aim was to discover and illuminate the essences of this phenomenal ...
Kahne, Bruno (University of ExeterSchool of Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS), 2009-04-03)One hundred years ago, Max Weber postulated in his seminal work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that after a tremendous development, capitalism would either reach a dead end, or would enter a new era of ...