Searching for studies

A systematic review requires a systematic search of the literature. This presentation introduces the role of the Trials Search Co-ordinator, and describes the principles of a comprehensive and rigorous search. It also describes sources to search and how to build a search strategy.

The presentation has been translated into several languages other than English. Select an available language from the list at the top right of this page.

A link is provided to a website providing more information about the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL).

A guided tour through building a search in the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and a list of databases and sources to consider for searching are available to download.


After using this resource, you should be able to...
  • Recognise the role of the Information Specialist in supporting planning and conducting of searches
  • Explain the purpose of a rigorous search process in conducting Cochrane Reviews
  • Identify sources to search for research studies, including key bibliographic databases and grey literature
  • Construct a search strategy, including the use of the PICO structure and Boolean operators

Searching for studies - slidecast

Author information: 
Cumpston, Miranda; Lefebvre, Carol

Approved by the Cochrane Methods Board on 23 September 2011.
Compiled by Miranda Cumpston and Carol Lefebvre, based on materials by the UK Cochrane Centre, Australasian Cochrane Centre, Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Group, Canadian Cochrane Centre and Dutch Cochrane Centre.