Skip to main content

Systematic reviews - searching for literature: Reporting your search


There are different tools used for reporting results. One of the most commonly used is PRISMA.

See the following for examples of PRISMA used within articles:

1) Example 1

2) Example 2

3) Example 3

Record keeping

It is really important to keep good records of what you are doing and your results as you go. It is not uncommon to have to revisit and unpick your search and this is made infinitely easier if you have keep good records. Always keep in mind that:

  1. You need to write up your search strategy in your review
  2. Someone should be able to read your work and replicate to your search to the point that they could retrieve the same results (bearing in mind additional records may have been added to the source).

A not exhaustive list of things to record incudes:

  • Database names
  • Date searched
  • Results retrieved
  • Limits applied
  • Keywords used.

Saving your search with the database provider can help here, especially if you annotate the description field with key information. Importantly, remember to note the name of the database in which you undertook the search as the platform you are using may provide more than one database.

PRISMA 2009 flow diagram