When you are conducting your searches, keep track of what you are doing by documenting your search process in enough detail to ensure that it can be reported correctly in the review.
Documentation of your search strategy should include:
How to report a search?
There are a number of places where searches can be reported. These include the appendix, the review abstract and the methods section. Below are some examples that show these different models:
The PRISMA 2020 flow diagram can be used for further documentation of the number of records identified by database searching and through other sources. The flow diagram depicts the flow of information through the different phases of a systematic review. It maps out the number of records identified, included and excluded, and the reasons for exclusions. There are different templates available depending on the type of review and sources used. There is also an online PRISMA Diagram Generator, as well as a PRISMA flow diagram ShinyApp.
There is also a PRISMA for Searching extension (PRISMA-S) that was published in 2021. This checklist includes 16 reporting items, each of which is detailed with exemplar reporting and rationale.
A useful reporting tool for qualitative studies is STARLITE.
Why report a search?
As stated in the article below “a complete description of the literature search, including the criteria used for the inclusion of reports after they have been located, used in a research synthesis or meta-analysis is critical if subsequent researchers are to accurately evaluate and reproduce a synthesis’ methods and results.” (Atkinson, Koenka, Sanchez, Moshontz, & Cooper, 2014).
We recommend that you use a bibliographic management tool such as EndNote to manage your search results.
With EndNote you can:
For further information see our EndNote guides.