Search consultation

Are you going to conduct a systematic review and need help with the literature search? Do you want to make sure to not have missed out relevant articles in your topic? If this is the case, contact the search consultation service at the university library.

The search consultation service is aimed primarily for researchers at Karolinska Institutet.

If you are a bachelor's or master's student, or a doctoral student writing a literature review for the half-time summary, please make an appointment for literature and database searching.

About the Search Group

The search group is comprised of five librarians who regularly perform searches for clients of various types; mainly employees of Karolinska Institutet, but also customers from other public-sector organisations in Sweden.

Four reasons why involve a librarian / information specialist

  1. Other well-known organizations such as Institute of Medicine, Cochrane and SBU do so.
  2. A paper recently published concludes that systematic reviews including librarians or information specialists as co-authors "are correlated with significantly higher quality reported search strategies".
  3. Involving an independent information specialist could promote a more objective search of the literature.
  4. Save time.

We do not charge staff at Karolinska Institutet for search consultation. Searches cost SEK 800 per hour for external customers.

Since 2014, we no longer offer this service to private companies. This is mainly because the contracts we have for our licensed databases contain restrictions on what we can deliver to commercial enterprises.

The search group work in accordance with current evidence based practice, follow international guidelines and constantly keep up to date with developments in the field of literature search methodology. All members of the Search Group have attended international courses at the University of York and University of Exeter and, in Sweden, at the Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services (SBU). The groups has also visited and exchanged experiences with the Mayo Clinic (USA).

Karolinska Institutet offers two doctoral courses in systematic reviews in which the search group teach literature search methodology:

Order a search consultation

To order a search consultation, fill in the search consultation preparation form.

If conducting a systematic review:

If you are not conducting a systematic review, but needs assistance in literature searching in general, or perhaps considering to initiate a systematic review project – please book an individual appointment

Depending on workload, the time it takes to deliver the search results can vary. A systematic literature search takes at least two weeks to prepare. As a rule, two librarians work on each search project.

You can of course order a search consultation even if you are not going to publish a systematic review per se. There are journals – for example The Lancet and Alzheimer’s & Dementia – that require a structured, comprehensive and documented literature search ("Research in context") to be provided also for primary studies.

Delivery of search results

Search results are normally delivered with the help of reference management software, for example Endnote. The majority of databases overlap one another to varying degrees and identical references are therefore imported from different databases. A large proportion of these duplicates can be eliminated relatively simply using the duplicate removal function in Endnote (there are similar functions in other reference management software). However, the automatic duplicate removal needs to be complemented with a manual review of the reference library in order to find all of the duplicates.

The search strategy in a systematic review has to appear as a part of the method section. In Cochrane reports, the search strategy in its entirety is published as an appendix. Because the literature search for a systematic review is a central aspect of the method, the search has to be transparent, documented and reproducible. Normally, all of the search terms, any limitations, the databases' names and the platform used, the number of results and the date of the searches are declared. All this appears in a search documentation template the Search Group use when they deliver results.

Internationally, the librarian/information specialist who conducted the literature search is sometimes included as a co-author. This is not something the Search Group are looking to achieve, but being named in the acknowledgements section, or similar, is appreciated. We can also help to formulate text in the part of the method section where the literature search is described briefly.

At last, you may need to update the searches for newly published articles. According to Cochrane (standard C37), the "search must be rerun close to publication, if the initial search date is more than 12 months (preferably 6 months) from the intended publication date".


Selected publications involving the search group







2014 and older

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