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Searching systematically: Document your search

How to search systematically, from developing a good research question to managing your search results

Why document your search?

Documenting your search will help you

  • keep track of what you've done so that you don't repeat unproductive searches
  • re-use successful search strategies for to find newly published papers on the subject
  • help you describe your search process for manuscripts
  • justify your search process

This is a critical step for rigorous review papers, such as systematic reviews. Documenting searches for traditional other types of literature reviews is not essential but will help you stay organised and perhaps save you some time.

Search planning form

National Health Library & Knowledge Service. Health Service Executive. Dr. Steevens' Hospital, Dublin 8. Tel: 01-6352555/8. Email: