Students and staff of Radboud University can contact the NSM team for help with developing expert search strategies. If you would like to make an appointment for systematic review help, you can fill in the form and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can partner with you on:
To get started with your review, follow these steps:
Why do you want to do a review?
When you search for literature, you should think about your topic or research question. You can search for literature with a query based on your topic or research question. Depending on your research question and review type you will develop a search strategy.
Consider what type of literature (journal articles, books, case studies etc.) you are looking for, as the type of literature determines the database you should use. You will find databases in this library guide in the menu Find Literature, ordered by name and by publication type. Our Databases A-Z lists all available search sources.
Tips for identifying whether a source is relevant:
When performing an extensive literature search, don’t restrict your search to the key terms of your research question or topic.
For each key term, also think about:
To find alternative search terms:
Every database works differently. The NSM team can help you with setting up searches using the specialized syntax of individual databases.
You can organize your search terms into thematic groups (blocks), covering the various aspects within your topic. It will help to create an overview of potential search terms.
The search terms within a block are combined with OR; the blocks are combined with an AND operator.
Backward citation search
If you have found one journal article, you can consult the article's references to find out what sources were used. This will help you to find earlier literature.
Forward citation search
Forward citation search is snowballing forward. Look at sources where the article is cited. This will give you more up-to-date literature on your topic. The Web of Science or Google Scholar search engine, for example, let you do this easily.
Searching relevant journals
If you find many relevant articles in certain journals, it may be useful to search these journals to find other relevant articles. Find out more about journal search.
If a lot of your key articles are written by the same author, you could carry out an author search. You can search by author in almost all databases or search engines. Make sure you search for all name variants.
Record your search activities including search strategy, search terms, search options, search filters and search operators.
Gather, store and organise your records.
Deduplicate records from multiple database searches and other information sources.
To select references:
Think about inclusion and exclusion criteria e.g.:
The PRISMA flow diagram might help you with this selection process.
Software tools for screening references
ASReview - Open source screening softare based on active learning techniques.
abstrackr - Abstract screening for systematic reviews.
Covidence - Software for screening, risk of bias tables and data extraction.
Check retractions, corrections and expressions of concern of included references e.g. via Retraction Watch Database. Some reference managers (for example EndNote, Zotero) have been integrated with the Retraction Watch database.
At the NSM you should credit sources in American Psychological Association (APA) style.
Reference management programs help you with managing references and citing literature in your documents. They offer ways to link and search full text and format your citations in many different citation styles.