Skip to Main Content

Systematic Reviews & Evidence Synthesis

UC San Diego Library Systematic Review Service



View the slideshow version


Read the step-by-step guide Search for Evidence in a Systematic Review





Learn about the building blocks of a systematic search


Search Modes
Use both modes to search thoroughly
Text word search 
– Finds terms in a publication’s title, abstract, and other parts
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide
Controlled vocabulary search
– Find publications tagged with a standardized term that indicates the subject matter
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide

Search Terms
Use a broad range of words to describe your topic
Text words
– Compile the terms that may appear in the publication’s text
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide
Controlled vocabulary
– Identify the standardized term used by the database to describe your topic
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide


Search Operators
Use operators to define logical relationships among search terms
– Join similar terms, such as synonyms and related concepts
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide
– Combine different concepts
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide
Parentheses ( )
– Combine a logical group of terms with another group
– Conduct a nested search
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide
Double quotation marks “ ”
– Search for a phrase (a multi-word expression)
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide
Truncation operator
– Retrieve the different endings of a word stem
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide


Field Search
– Restrict the search to specific parts of a database record Video  |  Slides  |  Guide


Special Search Functions
Search tools that work in some databases, not all
Wildcard search
– Retrieve different characters within a word
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide
Proximity search
– Find one word with a specific distance of another word
Video  |  Slides  |  Guide


Search Filters
– Find publications that meet methodological or topical characteristics Video  |  Slides  |  Guide


Search Strategy
Write the search statement for the search box
Formulate a strategy: step-by-step Video  |  Slides  |  Guide
Translate a strategy: step-by-step from PubMed to Embase Video  |  Slides  |  Guide