Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies

Sampson M, McGowan J, Lefebvre C, Moher D, Grimshaw J. PRESS: Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies. Ottawa: Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2008.

Introduction: The quality of health technology assessment (HTA) reports depends on many factors. One of these factors is the evidence base from which the HTA is derived. The evidence base is created by gathering information from many sources and performing literature searches. Performing a high quality search of information resources will ensure the accuracy and completeness of the evidence base used in HTA reports. Currently, no review exists to tell us what elements of the search process have the most impact on the overall quality of the resulting evidence base.

Conclusion: This work fills a gap in the assurance of the methodological quality of systematic reviews by contributing an evidence-based scale for the peer review of the electronic search strategy. The project has received support and participation from the information science community, and this approach to the peer review of search strategies has been supported by the Cochrane Collaboration’s Information Retrieval Methods Group. A validated process – both transparent and robust – for peer-reviewing search strategies will improve the retrieval of the relevant information that forms the evidence base

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