Searching shortcuts - finding and appraising search filters

  1. Julie Glanville, Project Director
  1. Information services, York Health Economics Consortium Ltd, University of York jmg1{at}


Searching large biomedical databases such as MEDLINE can be a real challenge. We are searching millions of records, trying to get the records we want, but also trying to minimise the number of irrelevant records produced in the search. Often, we want to focus on best evidence or the latest research. Whilst our specific topics may differ, the searches for best evidence or publications with particular research designs may be common to many searchers. Every day, searchers around the world are probably trying to create search strategies to find the same things. Many searchers may not know the search options that are available on databases which may help to focus their search. This means there are plenty of opportunities for inefficiency. Surely there must be shortcuts to make common searches more standardised and quicker to perform? The perceived benefits of developing standard search approaches has indeed led to a recent boom in published search strategies offering shortcuts for retrieving specific research designs. These strategies have many names but are often called search filters, search hedges or clinical queries.

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