VU Systematic Literature Reviews: Searching techniques

In the paediatric population, do distraction techniques during immunisation result in less pain and anxiety?

Photo: James Gathany, Judy Schmidt, USCDCP

Searching techniques

Once you have compiled a comprehensive list of keywords and database-specific subject headings as well as considered possible fields for targeting keywords, you should now use different search techniques to combine your search terms into search strings.

Database filters for inclusion and exclusion criteria

Most journal databases have in-built search filters that you can use to execute the inclusion and exclusion criteria that you have set for your search strategy. When setting inclusion and exclusion criteria, it is essential to refer back to the protocol to ensure that they are applied with reason established in the protocol.
As an example, the following search in PsycInfo reflects the inclusion criteria based on age of participants, language and study type:

PsycINFO screenshot

Some examples of common inclusion/exclusion criteria might be:

  • Population group
  • Setting
  • Age of participants
  • Study type
  • Condition or exposure of interest
  • Geographic location
  • Outcomes
  • Language

For an extensive list of common inclusion/exclusion criteria, consult the University of Melbourne guide.