Conference Agenda

CEC afternoon 02
Monday, 17/June/2019:
1:30pm - 4:30pm

Location: Medical library, computer room

ID: 134 / CEC afternoon 02: 1
CEC session
Topics: Evidence-Based Practice
Keywords: Evidence‐based medicine, Systematic reviews, Question formulation, Advanced search techniques, Research

Developing an answerable question to design an effective search strategy

Mala Mann

Cardiff University, United Kingdom

The role of a health care librarian is continually evolving and faces greater challenge to support evidence-based medicine (EBM). The librarian's roles in the systematic review team as the expert searcher is widely recognized. However, librarians and information specialists can play a vital role in other aspects of the systematic review process. This is especially appropriate in the question development stage.

A question for a systematic review need to be clear and focused as it will help to determine rest of the review from development of the search strategy to presentation of the findings.

The review question is initiated by a research team and often the question is either too broad or too narrow and developing a search strategy can be challenging. Therefore, input from an information specialist with experience in searching the literature and is skilled to articulate questions that would be beneficial.

The aim of this course is to enable participants to convert an information query into an answerable question and ultimately into an effective search strategy for a systematic review.

This interactive session is designed to provide hands-on experience framing a focused research question by:

  • Identifying if the research question is appropriate for a systematic review
  • Consider important concepts within a research question
  • Locate search terms to describe those concepts
  • Followed by developing a search strategy using: Boolean operators; Keywords and indexed terms; Proximity and adjacency; Sensitivity’ and ‘specificity’; Setting limits; Wildcards and truncation; Verifying strategy performance.

The course will consist of presentations, demonstrations, group work and discussion. A handout describing a range of widely available databases and tips for translating searches between databases and service providers/search interfaces will also be provided. Participants should bring their own laptops for short exercises

Learning Outcomes : By the end of the course, participants will be able to: Remember the difference between background versus foreground questions; Understand how to convert the need for information into an answerable question; Identify important concepts within a research question and capture search terms to describe those concepts; Translate the question into a search strategy; Apply advance search techniques to develop the search strategy; Transfer a search strategy from one database platform to another; Evaluate approaches to verify the search strategy performance; Acquire confidence to teach these skills.

Level : Introductory/intermediate

Target audience : This workshop is aimed at healthcare librarians, who support researchers conducting systematic reviews and/or who want to gain more experience in teaching advanced searching

Preparation for the session: No

Biography and Bibliography
I am an Information Specialist/Systematic Reviewer based at Cardiff University's Specialist Unit for Review Evidence (SURE).
I have worked on a range of projects including reviews National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Welsh Government. I have co-authored over 60 publications, including several Cochrane reviews. My particular expertise is in advanced literature searching and the development of systematic review methodologies. I provide support and training for staff and students, conducting workshops on advanced literature searching and critical appraisal for clinicians, students and healthcare librarians. In addition to teaching on the Cardiff University Doctoral Academy and several MSc programmes, I am involved in conducting several systematic reviews. Furthermore, I am involved in developing methods for rapid reviews to support professionals and other decision makers working in palliative care, as part of the Palliative Care Evidence Review Service.