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Library update: Recent database changes

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Systematic Reviews

This guide provides tips and strategies for conducting a systematic literature review.

Choosing Databases

"There is no single database that is able to provide a complete and accurate list of all studies that meet systematic review criteria due to the differences in the articles included and the indexing methods used between databases ... These differences have led to recommendations that systematic review teams search multiple databases to maximize the likelihood of finding relevant studies."

The above quotation is from Rethlefsen, M. L., Kirtley, S., Waffenschmidt, S., Ayala, A. P., Moher, D., Page, M. J., & Koffel, J. B. (2021). PRISMA-S: an extension to the PRISMA statement for reporting literature searches in systematic reviews. Systematic reviews, 10, 1-19. (available under CC BY-NC 4.0). This article should be read if you will be following the PRISMA reporting standards.

The following are examples of databases that you may find useful:

The above list is not an exhaustive of library databases that may useful, and if you will be including gray literature in your study, there may be many other sources to include. Note: When doing a systematic review, you should search specific databases. You should not include Discovery, which is part of the main search box on the library's homepage.

Be sure to meet with a librarian to discuss databases that might be most useful and how best to search them!

What Is Being Searched?

Unlike searching Google or Google Scholar, when searching most library databases, you are searching not the full-text of a publication, but the following meta-data about the publication:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Author-provided keywords
  • Subject headings (special indexing terms) assigned to the publication by the database provider

In EBSCO databases, by default you are also searching the author names, journal names, and affiliation.