Cochrane Handbook Search Sections

Chapter 4: Searching for and selecting studies

4.S1 Technical Supplement to Chapter 4: Searching for and Selecting Studies

4.S2 Supplementary material: Appendix of resources

Training Manual for Handsearchers.  Prepared by the US Cochrane Centre.  December 2002

Cochrane aims to prepare, maintain and promote accessibility to systematic reviews of the effects of health care.  In order to undertake a systematic review, one has to find the relevant studies.  In the case of Cochrane reviews this often, but not always, means identifying randomized and quasi-randomized trials.  This Manual was designed in 2002 (by predecessors to what is now known as Cochrane US) to provide written training materials for those planning to engage in handsearching to identify randomized and quasi-randomized trials.  We consider it to still be useful for those engaged in learning how to classify journal articles and / or database abstracts to identify studies for inclusion in reviews or for inclusion in CENTRAL.                               

Training Manual for Handsearchers.


Finding Search Filters

 The InterTASC Information Specialists' Sub-Group Search Filter Resource *New Filters added November 2021*

The InterTASC Information Specialists' Sub-Group (ISSG) is the group of information professionals supporting research groups within England and Scotland providing technology assessments to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and other associated Information Specialists.

The InterTASC Information Specialists' Sub-Group Search Filter Resource is a collaborative venture to identify, assess and test search filters designed to retrieve research by study design or focus. The Search Filter Resource aims to provide easy access to published and unpublished search filters. It also provides information and guidance on how to critically appraise search filters, study design filters in progress and information on the development and use of search filters. Inclusion of a search filter is not an endorsement of its validity or a recommendation.


Low and Middle Income Countries Databases

A number of Cochrane Groups  led by the Norwegian Satellite of the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group, have been working on a list of databases of relevance to low and middle income countries.

This listing is now available on their web page Databases Relevant to Low & Middle Income Countries

If you would like feedback on this project please contact Alison Weightman


Searching for Unpublished Studies.

A consortium consisting of York Health Economics Consortium and the Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Group has looked into the issue of searching for unpublished studies and obtaining access to unpublished data and has produced the following report and bibliography:

Arber M, Cikalo M, Glanville J, Lefebvre C, Varley D, Wood H. Annotated bibliography of published studies addressing searching for unpublished studies and obtaining access to unpublished data. York: York Health Economics Consortium; 2013.

This work was a sub-project of a larger project entitled “Searching for unpublished trials using trials registers and trials web sites and obtaining unpublished trial data and corresponding trial protocols from regulatory agencies”.


Other outputs of this project include:

Schroll, JB, Bero, L, Gotzsche, P. Searching for unpublished data for Cochrane reviews: Cross sectional study.  BMJ 2013;346:f2231

Wolfe, N, Gotzsche, PC and Bero, L.  Strategies for obtaining unpublished drug trial data:  A qualitative interview study.  Systematic Reviews. 2013; 2:31.

The project was a collaboration between the San Francisco Branch of the United States Cochrane Center, Nordic Cochrane Centre, Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group, York Health Economics Consortium and the Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Group.

This sub-project was undertaken by staff of York Health Economics Consortium and Carol Lefebvre of Lefebvre Associates Ltd, for which some funding was provided by the Cochrane Collaboration under the Methods Innovation Funding initiative.

We thank the authors for allowing us to link to the full text of the report from this site.


Summarized Research in Information Retrieval for HTA (SuRe Info)

SuRe Info is a section of the HTAi Vortal that provides research-based information relating to the information retrieval aspects of producing systematic reviews and health technology assessments. SuRe Info seeks to help information specialists to stay up-to-date in the latest developments in their field by providing easy access to current methods papers.

SuRe Info Web pages