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Table 2 The order of literature search methods as presented in the guidance documents

From: Defining the process to literature searching in systematic reviews: a literature review of guidance and supporting studies

Step The CRD Handbook The Cochrane Handbook Collaboration for environmental evidence Joanna Briggs Institute reviewers manual IQWiG Methods Resources Systematic reviews in the social sciences: a practical guide Eunethta Campbell Handbook Developing NICE guidelines: the manual
1 Searching electronic databases Searching bibliographic databases Searching online literature databases and catalogues Databases (development of search strategies, phase one) Bibliographic databases ( for primary literature. 2. search for SRs) Databases Bibliographic databases Bibliographic databases (1. subject databases. 2. general databases) No list of search methods but guidance distinguishes between database searching (first) and supplementary searching (second)
2 Scanning references lists of relevant studies Handsearching Searching websites of organisations and professional networks Database searching (phase two) Search in trial registries Grey literature Study registries Conference proceedings and meeting abstracts
3 Handsearching of key journals Conference abstracts or proceedings Searching the world-wide web Review reference lists Clinical practice guideline databases and providers identifying on-going research Searching for unpublished company documents Existing review and publication reference lists  
4 Searching trials registers Other reviews Searching bibliographies of key articles/ reviews Handsearching Requests to manufacturers Theses Regulatory documents Web searching  
5 Contacting experts and manufactures Web-searching Contacting key individuals who work in the area   Other data sources Conference proceedings Queries to authors Unpublished studies  
6 Searching relevant internet resources Unpublished and on-going studies (inc. author contact) Citation searches for key papers/ included papers    Citation searching Further search techniques On-going studies  
7 Citation searching      Searching the web   Institutional repositories  
8 Using a project website to canvas for studies      contact with experts   handsearching  
9       Trials registers