Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Searching: purpose of question and time frame

Martin posted a great comment on the search strategy for Search Challenge #1, noting:
I think the strategy depends a lot an the situation: if you want to answer a clinical question rapidly, I go for (systematic) reviews first than do a narrow search as an update to the review.
If the task is to do a systematic review, the strategy must be much more detailed and refined.
Maybe you could define the timeframe for the next challenge...
For these first two questions, I have been thinking of them as basic patient care questions, with about a few days to a week turnaround time.

For last week's question, I think Martin's approach is very reasonable and a judicious use of time - selecting the Cochrane systematic review and the trials published since the date that the search in the systematic review was last updated.

As he noted, if this search request was from someone working on a systematic review or other project requiring comprehensive retrieval, the search would need to be much broader and more complex and would also need to include resources beyond PubMed (the Cochrane strategies include great examples of strategy complexity and broader resource selection) .

We'll have one of our future search challenges examine a hypothetical systematic review topic so we can consider what that means for the strategy and for which resources we search.

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