Information retrieval for the Cochrane systematic reviews: the case of breast cancer surgery



Introduction. Systematic reviews are fundamental sources of knowledge on the state-ofthe-

art interventions for various clinical problems. One of the essential components in

carrying out a systematic review is that of developing a comprehensive literature search.

Materials and methods. Three Cochrane systematic reviews published in 2012 were

retrieved using the MeSH descriptor breast neoplasms/surgery, and analyzed with respect

to the information sources used and the search strategies adopted. In March 2014, an

update of one of the reviews retrieved was also considered in the study.

Results. The number of databases queried for each review ranged between three and

seven. All the reviews reported the search strategies adopted, however some only partially.

All the reviews explicitly claimed that the searches applied no language restriction

although sources such as the free database Lilacs (in Spanish and Portuguese) was

not consulted.

Conclusion. To improve the quality it is necessary to apply standards in carrying out

systematic reviews (as laid down in the MECIR project). To meet these standards concerning

literature searching, professional information retrieval specialist staff should be

involved. The peer review committee in charge of evaluating the publication of a systematic

review should also include specialists in information retrieval for assessing the quality

of the literature search.

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Gaetana Cognetti

Laura Grossi

Antonio Lucon

Renata Solimini

How to Cite
Cognetti, G., Grossi, L., Lucon, A., & Solimini, R. (2015). Information retrieval for the Cochrane systematic reviews: the case of breast cancer surgery. Annali dell’Istituto Superiore Di Sanità, 51(1), 34-39. Retrieved from
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