Library Services


Introduction to search strategies for systematic reviews of interventions (Location: Royal Free)

12 February 2019, 9:30 am–1:00 pm

Location: Royal Free Hospital Medical Library. This is an advanced session that takes literature searching beyond the basics. The session aims to give students an insight into carrying out a structured, comprehensive, replicable search using biomedical sciences literature databases.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Royal Free Hospital Medical Library


Large TESA
Royal Free Hospital Medical Library
Royal Free Hospital, Rowland Hill Street
United Kingdom

Participants will learn how to create a basic search to gauge the scope of existing research on their topic and then develop this into a search strategy appropriate for a systematic review. The session will focus on the Ovid SP interface to the Medline database, showing how to use appropriate terminology and notation. Other databases such as PubMed, the Cochrane Library and Web of Science will also be included and participants will learn how to translate search terms to reproduce their search strategy in different databases.

The session also considers additional methods for identifying appropriate papers for a systematic review; how to evaluate a search strategy; and how to document the search.

This session is also part of the Doctoral School Skills Development programme. Postgraduate research students at UCL should book a place by logging in via the programme website.


Course participants should have  experience and understanding of the following

  • How to access literature databases via the library website
  • Subject headings and how to create a search strategy by combining subject headings and keywords
  • How to use parentheses, truncation and phrase searching in a search strategy
  • How to use the Boolean operators AND, OR and NOT
  • How to save a search strategy, create a search alert, and save search results in a literature database
  • Some awareness of database limits or filters
  • Some familiarity with PubMed, the Ovid SP interface, Web of Science and/or Scopus is desirable