Process and methods

Appendix A External and internal information services

A1: The template that is used when requesting a literature search

Information service provider:
Time taken:
Date of search:
Key questions/key words:
Search back to (date):
Databases/sources to search:

A2: Search results and first sift

Results are downloaded into Reference Manager databases to make tasks like editing details, removing duplicates and shifting studies into different categories easier.

Abstracts of all studies are scanned and the studies edited to try to ensure they meet requirements that cannot be included in the search itself (for example, study size, patient orientated outcomes, disease subgroup, etc.).

Final lists of references are created from the Reference Manager databases as dated Word documents and sent to the NICE project team. Paper copies of the reference lists are kept by the Information Services team. A record is kept of the search procedure used (using the above template) and is also sent to the NICE project team.

A3: Other options used for search strategy

Searching step-by-step by study design

For review questions on the effectiveness of interventions, it may be more efficient to search for systematic reviews, followed by randomised controlled trials (RCTs), followed by cohort or case–control studies. This will prevent unnecessary searching and review work. An absence of good-quality RCTs covering all the key outcomes may mean expanding the search to retrieve observational studies. The use of relevant search filters can help to identify study types and therefore assist in this method of searching.

Search filters

Search filters can be used to make searching more efficient and effective by saving time and bringing consistency and focus to the searching process. Search filters may be developed using a range of research-based and non-research-based methods. The most reliable filters are likely to be those that describe explicit methods, including how the search terms were identified and combined, and how the performance of search strategies was tested using collections of relevant records. The most comprehensive listing of available search filters can be found on the InterTASC Information Specialists' Sub\u2011\Group (ISSG) website, which lists filters by study design, database and interface.

When choosing a search filter, it is important to consider the age of the filter (to take account of changes such as indexing or interface changes), and whether it maximises sensitivity or precision.