Skip to main content

Systematic Reviews

Specialised advice for planning, researching and writing Systematic Reviews.

Handsearch

Handsearching is a critical part of the review to find materials not found through traditional searches. It is a manual process to examine and identify further relevant studies and includes:

  • Perusing the pages of key journals, conferences and other sources
  • Checking reference lists of identified articles and documents

Why is it important?

  • Not all databases index items comprehensively. This may be because not all information is included in records or because not all content of the journal is indexed.
  • Searches may not be comprehensive enough or may not include relevant key terms.
  • Authors may not have described articles accurately with key terms used.
  • Allows more detailed scanning of key journals and other sources.
  • Some sources are not included in traditional databases.
  • Ensures that relevant studies are not overlooked.

For more information about handsearching see:

Checking references

Cited reference searching is part of the handsearching process

  • Check the reference lists of useful articles to find older articles relating to the topic.
  • Check citing articles to find more recent articles that cite useful articles to find more recent sources.

Databases for cited reference searching that have both these features include:

Finding review articles on similar topics will also be useful to find more relevant authors and papers 

  • Check databases for limits to restrict results to 'reviews' using limiters such as publication type or document type.
  • Check the Advanced Search screen for limiting options.

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country