Responsible Literature Searching
Responsible Literature Searching: General Searching Techniques
Several standard techniques are useful when searching the literature. The average keyword search will only give you a fraction of relevant citations available. As you develop more advance searching skills this percentage of relevant citation retrievals will increase. In his article on “Searching for information on outcomes: do you need to be comprehensive?” ( 1) Brettle points out that the goal is to balance precision with recall. Recall pertains to the number of publications of potential interest retrieved in the search. Precision pertains to the relevance of the publications identified in the search.
Typically, as recall increases, the number of irrelevant citations increases as well, thus lowering precision. And as the precision increases, limiting a search to only the most relevant citations, the recall decreases, retrieving fewer items that are of potential interest. A balanced search seeks to retrieve a good working set of relevant articles while limiting the number of irrelevant articles. This module identifies a few commonly used techniques for developing a variety of effective search strategies.