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Stage 2: Developing the Search: Validate the Search

Validate the Search

Validating your search requires three processes. To validate your search, you will:

1. Review Existing Reviews

Search for a synthesis review that is similar to your topic; it could be a systematic review, scoping review, realist review, etc. Review the search strategy as well as relevant included references to ensure your search is comprehensive.

2. Pilot the Search Strategy: Search, Review, Revise, Re-search

  • a. Identify one core database directly relevant to the research question
  • b. Enter the search strategy into the database
  • c. Review the results of the search and reflect on the results. Some critical questions to consider are:
  • d. Revise your search strategy to reflect the findings from your pilot search.
  • e. Rerun your revised search strategy and review the results.

3. Peer Review via PRESS

Search strategies should be evaluated by an external reviewer (e.g., librarian, information specialist) using the checklist Peer Review of Electronic Searches Strategies (PRESS). The purpose of using the checklist is to evaluate the integrity of the searching process.

PRESS 2015 Evidence-Based Checklist (pg. 39-40, Table 9). In addition to the checklist, there is documentation to assist with implementing the peer review process (see pg. 40-45, Table 10 of PRESS Guideline Assessment Form)