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Systematic Reviews for Health: Handsearching

A guide on how a Research Librarian can help you during a systematic review process


"Handsearching involves a manual page-by-page examination of the entire contents of a journal issue or conference proceedings to identify all eligible reports of trials. In journals, reports of trials may appear in articles, abstracts, news columns, editorials, letters or other text."

Cochrane Handbook, 4.3.5

Why Is Handsearching Important?

Handsearching journals and conference proceedings relevant to your topic is important for two reasons:

  1. Not all trial reports are included in electronic bibliographic databases,
  2. Even when they are included, they may not contain relevant search terms in the titles or abstracts or be indexed with terms that allow them to be easily identified as trials.

Cochrane Handbook, 4.3.5

Additional Resources

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