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Systematic searching: Handsearching

Handsearching complements database searches

Database searches are often supplemented by a manual search, i.e. handsearching. Handsearching can be used to find studies that are incompletely indexed in databases or otherwise not found in a database search.

How to handsearch

  • Carefully browse through the main scientific journals and other publications on a given topic. Perhaps you already know the key publications in your subject area or you can look at which journal titles appear most often in your search results.
  • Use citation pearl growing strategy.
    • Select the most relevant documents from your search results as your 'core documents'
    • Take a look at their bibliographies. Many databases suggest similar or related articles and some databases also show articles that cite the article.
    • Make use of search engines designed for searching and analysing references, such as: