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Sports Science: Search skills for systematic reviews: Managing your search results

This tutorial will guide you through the steps required to systematically search for your systematic review projects.

Results sign

Systematically searching multiple databases means you will have search results in a number of places. Therefore, you will need to consider how you are going to record and manage all your results. You should do this before you start searching. There are a number of tools and techniques available to help you with this process.

Most databases allow you to save individual searches, your search history and your results, and to export your search results through a number of different methods (printing, emailing or exporting results to referencing software). Using these options will help you keep track of the relevant studies you find whilst searching. 

Saving searches

Most databases allow you to create a personal account providing you with an area where you can save your searches, and sort and export your search results. If you alter your original search, you can save the new search and track the changes.

The help section within a database provides advice on how to create an account (please note you will only need to create one account for each platform i.e. Ovid or EBSCO). You should use your university email to register.  

To save searches:

  1. Run a search and view your search results.

  2. Click the Search History link, then click the Save Searches/Alerts link. The Saved Search/Alerts Screen appears. If you have not signed in to My EBSCOhost, you will be prompted to do so. 

  1. Enter a Name and Description for the search. 
  2. In the Save Search As field, select one of the following:

  • Saved Search (Permanent)
  • Saved Search (Temporary 24 hours)
  1. To save the search, click Save; otherwise, click Cancel. You are returned to the Search History/Alerts Screen.

To retrieve searches:

  1. From the Search History/Alerts Screen, click Retrieve Searches (you will need to be signed into your personal account). The Saved Searches area of your folder displays.

  2. Click on the Retrieve Saved Search link for the desired search.

To print search history:

  1. From the Search History/Alerts Screen, click Print Search History. A browser window appears with the search history formatted for printing.

  2. On the browser toolbar, click the Print icon. To close the browser, click the x in the top right corner of the window.

To save citations to referencing software: 

  1. From your result or from the folder, click Export. The Export Manager panel appears.
  2. Save citations to a file formatted for e.g. Direct Export in RIS Format for EndNote. 
  3. Click save. (If you are exporting to EndNote make sure you have opened your library before you click to export).

exporting - save

Once you have run your search you can save it. You can save an individual search by selecting the save option available under more actions or all of your searches using the save all option at the bottom of the search history section. 

Exporting References from Ovid Databases

  1. Select the references by ticking the boxes displayed next to them. 
  2. Once you have select all relevant references, select the Export option

Ovid export option

  1. In the pop-up window select EndNote as the format in the drop-down list. 
  2. Decide the level of detail you require for each reference and select the required fields accordingly. Note the URL option provides a link to the database record not the article itself. 

Ovid export citation options

  1. Click the Export button. 

Please note: there is a limit on the number of search results that can be exported in one go. If you have a large set of results you wish to export you will need to do so in "batches" using the range option. Enter each batch in the range option before choosing the export option. 

Top Tip: Always make sure you have opened your EndNote library before starting the import process!

  1. Select the references by ticking the boxes displayed next to them. 
  2. Once you have select all relevant references, select the Export option

Ovid export option

  1. In the pop-up window select Microsoft Word as the format in the drop-down list. 
  2. Decide the level of detail you require for each reference and select the required fields accordingly. Note the URL option provides a link to the database record not the article itself. 

Word citation export option

  1. Click the Export option

Top Tip: Including your search history can be useful to keep track of your searches!

Exporting References from Scopus

  1. Tick the checkbox next to the reference(s) you wish to export.
  2. Click the Export button. This is positioned to the left of the Download button. 
  3. Choose RIS Format EndNote, Reference Manager. Click Export.

  1. You should get a popup dialog box at the bottom of the screen, click Open and select EndNote. The references should appear in the Imported References group.

Managing results

One of the most commonly used reporting tools is PRISMA. The PRISMA flow diagram charts the flow of information through the different phases of your systematic search. It maps out the number of records identified, included and excluded, and the reasons for exclusions. Use the additional records source section to record anything you found outside of your database searches. 

It is recommended that you conduct your searches in individual databases. A good search is likely to find some of the same relevant results in more than one database. Therefore, you may need to de-duplicate your results e.g. remove multiple records for the same reference. You can do this process in referencing software (remember to back up your library first) or using Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet software by collating all your results, filtering and looking for the duplicates. 

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