TIP: Look for systematic reviews that have already been published.
This serves two purposes:
The goal of systematic review searches is to identify all relevant studies on a topic. Therefore, systematic review searches are typically quite extensive. It is necessary, however, to strike a balance between striving for comprehensiveness and maintaining relevance when developing a search strategy. Increasing the comprehensiveness (or sensitivity) of a search will reduce its precision and will retrieve more non-relevant articles.
For more information, check out IOM Standards for Systematic Reviews: Standard 3.1: Conduct a comprehensive systematic search for evidence
The goal of a systematic review search is to maximize recall and precision while keeping results manageable. Recall (sensitivity) is defined as the number of relevant reports identified divided by the total number of reports in existence. Precision (specificity) is defined as the number of relevant reports identified divided by the total number of reports identified.
Issues to consider when creating a systematic review search:
These search strategies help find citations that correspond to a specific clinical study category
See Part 2, Section 6.4.11: Search Filters
InterTASC Information Specialists' Sub-Group
The ISSG has developed a quality checklist to assess published filters designed to retrieve records by specific study design.
Blog: PubMed Search Strategies
This blog has been created to share PubMed search strategies
Articles on Search Filters in PubMed
Runs a search in PubMed for articles about search filters.
Cochrane Filter for Humans Only:
NOT (animals [mh] NOT humans [mh])
Duke Modified Cochrane Strategy for Randomized Trials in PubMed:
(randomized controlled trial[pt] OR controlled clinical trial[pt] OR randomized[tiab] OR randomised[tiab] OR randomization[tiab] OR randomisation[tiab] OR placebo[tiab] OR drug therapy[sh] OR randomly[tiab] OR trial[tiab] OR groups[tiab] NOT (animals[mh] NOT humans[mh]) NOT (Editorial[pt] OR Letter[pt] OR Case Reports[pt] OR Comment[pt]
IOM Standards for Systematic Reviews: Standard 3.4: Document the search
Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions
See Part 2, Chapter 6.6: Documenting and reporting the search process
Analysis of the reporting of search strategies in Cochrane systematic reviews
Yoshii, A. (2009). Journal of the Medical Library Association, 97(1): 21-29. PMID: 19158999
PRESS Instrument for Reviewing Search Strategies
Checklist for peer review of search strategies
Search for terms and check "highly related concepts" to see MeSH that are common among your results.
Run a query and see what journals, MeSH, etc., are represented among your results.
A Tool from NLM that suggests MeSH terms based on text you provide.