Effectiveness and efficiency in exhaustive searches

MLA Course
Listing Archived: Thursday, April 19, 2018

Primary contact information...
Erasmus MC - University Medical Centre Rotterdam
P.O. Box 2040
Rotterdam , 3000CA
Wichor Bramer is the primary contact.
Phone: +31 10 7043785
Region: All

Description: Experienced information specialists designing searches for systematic reviews will be taught a new method using which exhaustive search strategies can be created much faster maintaining high sensitivity and acceptable precision. Participants will learn a coding structure that helps them create complicated search strategies more easily, optimization methods that help identify extra words on any topic, and methods to semi-automatically translate search strategies between databases and interfaces using macros in MS Word. After demonstrations and exercises with a shared example research question, participants will work in their own database of choice on their own (or their customer's) research question(s). An experienced information specialist will guide them individually through the process. After the workshop the participants will be able to create complex searches that are checked for completeness and have been translated in different databases much faster than with traditional methods.

Experience Level: Advanced
Continuing Education Experience: Experience with expert searching
CE Contact Hours: 4
Professional Competencies: Health Sciences Information Services
Subject: Expert Searching
Course Type: Hands-on

Educational Objective: • Participants will be able to use the new search method to create complex search strategies for systematic reviews • Participants will be able to optimize their search strategies with the methods described to identify missed relevant search terms • Participants can translate search strategies with the developed macros


Homework before the workshop: 
Participants will send information on their experiences and on their own research question for use during class time, including their current search strategies:
-	Experience in systematic searches
-	Databases available at their local institution and preferred interfaces/databases (a checklist of will be provided)
-	Research question on a medical topic
-	Complete search strategy, including full syntax, in one or more database(s) of choice
Teachers will provide direct feedback on the homework, giving tips for improvement, and will use this information to provide each participant with detailed information needed for the practica during the workshop.

Workshop (time indicates time after the start of the workshop):

0:00 presentation
Analyzing a research question – elements and key concepts in a research question – bias and duplicates in elements

0:20 classical exercise
Using an example question: Which elements are important, specific or general - Which elements should be used in a search strategy

0:30 demonstration 
Differences between thesauruses of Emtree and MeSH - Using participants' individual research questions: which thesaurus terms can be found for these elements – what other synonyms can be found in the thesauruses. Followed by a short classical exercise: finding as many relevant search terms as possible on a certain topic

1:00 demonstration – individual exercise
Efficient ways to create complex search strategies. Using a standard research question: The teacher demonstrates one element; participants copy the method - Participants create the other elements individually

1:45 individual exercise (incl. 15 min. break)
Using participants' individual research questions: participants use the new method to create a search strategy for their own research question in their own database and interface of choice (Ovid, embase.com, EBSCOhost, ProQuest and PubMed are supported).

2:30 demonstration 
Optimization of the basic search strategy – How to find extra relevant search terms in the articles already retrieved – how to make sure no relevant references are missed by the search

2:45 individual exercise
Using participants' individual research questions: optimization

3:00 demonstration - individual exercise
Translation of the optimized search strategy into various databases (embase.com, Medline Ovid, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Scopus, CINAHL, Google Scholar). Explanation how to create and adapt macros to translate search strategies between different databases.

3:45 presentation - discussion
What is new of this method – How is it different than traditional methods – What is the potential effect of this method for your organization / customers

Need for This Course: In MLA 2015 in Austin, a well-attended sunrise seminar was presented which included a live demonstration of the method on research questions from people in the audience. Many attendees wanted to learn more about the method and proposed this should be an official CE in future MLA meetings. A recent meta-analysis showed that the median time information specialists need to design systematic review searches is 12 hours. The method presented here can be performed much faster, the developer of the method (the teacher of this workshop) reaches a median of 70 minutes. The results of those searches are comparable to other reviews assisted by information speicliasts. An article about this data is recently submitted to a scientific journal, and will be part of the PhD thesis of one of the teachers. The time saved constructing searches can enable information specialists and librarians to perform more expert searches faster, thus allowing searchers to work on more systematic reviews or to devote saved time to other endeavors.

The instructional methods used include Demonstration, Slides, Discussion, and Hands-on Exercises.

Participant Materials: Step-by-step guide describing the creation of systematic search strategies in multiple databases Downloadable macros to translate search strategies between databases

Facility Requirements: Presenter will bring his own laptop, a projector and appropriate connection cables are needed Participants should have individual computers with internet access and MS Word. Since tablets are not robust enough for the method, desktop computers are preferred above participants’ own laptops. If possible, access to major databases (Medline / Embase via Ovid) is preferred, but participants will be asked to make sure they can access their own institutional resources via VPN or remote access logins. For individual assistance during the workshop, teachers should be able to move freely around the participants’ computers to check their progress and provide assistance where needed.

Additional Evaluation: No additional evaluation