Collections > Scholarly Posters and Presentations > Analysis of the Reporting of Search Strategies in Cochrane Systematic Reviews

Background: The Cochrane Handbook provides instructions for documenting the search strategy for a systematic review, listing the elements of the search strategy that should be included in the description. The purpose of detailed documentation of the search is to ensure that the process is replicable. Objective: To analyze recently published Cochrane reviews to determine whether the guidelines for describing search strategies are being followed. Methods: Sixty-nine of 83 new reviews added to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 1st quarter 2006 were randomly selected for analysis. Thirteen were excluded because the search strategies depended solely on Specialized Registers of trials. The remaining 56 reviews were analyzed for the seven elements of a search strategy description listed in the Handbook. Results: Of the 56 reviews analyzed, none included all seven elements of the search strategy description. Four reviews included six elements. One review included only two elements. The 56 reviews that were analyzed represent 31 different Cochrane Review Groups. Conclusion: The Cochrane guidelines for reporting search strategies are not being consistently employed by groups producing Cochrane reviews.