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Systematic Reviews for Health: Building Search Strategies

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

Building Search Strategies

Building search strategies is part of the Search for studies step.

This tab offers a step-by-step guide to developing a search strategy for a systematic review. The theoretical explanation for each of the steps (left column) is supplemented with an example (right column).

It is recommended to work through the steps sequentially, starting with Step 1


Templates / Helpsheets


To illustrate each step for developing a search strategy, the example used in the following 11 steps is (with a slight adaptation):

Aromataris, E & Riitano, D 2014, 'Systematic reviews: Constructing a search strategy and searching for evidence', AJN The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 114, no. 5, pp. 49-56.

Additional Resources

A subsection of the Evidence-Based Information Special Interest Group (EBI-SIG) with the European Association of Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) are working on a project to create living open access Library of Search Strategy Resources:


SuRe Info is a web resource that provides research-based information relating to information retrieval aspects of producing systematic reviews. The resource is kept up-to-date by an international team of experienced information specialists.


Other Australian universities have developed extensive guides on building search strategies:


These videos from the Medical Library at Yale University outline how to build search strategies for a systematic review:


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