Methods of Developing Search Filters


The following selected resources provide examples of methods to develop search filters.

Boynton J, Glanville J, McDaid D, Lefebvre C. Identifying systematic reviews in MEDLINE: developing an objective approach to search strategy design. J Inf Sci. 1998; 24: 137-157.

Budram D, Navarro-Ruan T, Haynes RB. The efficiency of database searches for creating systematic reviews was improved by search filters. J Clin Epidemiol 2018 Mar;95:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2017.11.017. Epub 2017 Nov 27

Campbell, Sandy. What is the difference between a filter and a hedge? J Eur Assoc Health Inf Libr. 2016; 2 (1): 4-5

Cooper C, Varley-Campbell J, Booth A, Britten N, Garside R. Systematic review identifies six metrics and one method for assessing literature search effectiveness but no consensus on appropriate use J Clin Epidemiol. 2018;99: 53-63

Damarell RA; Tieman JJ; Sladek RM.  OvidSPMedline-to-PubMed search filter translation: a methodology for extending searchfilter range to include PubMed's unique content.  BMC Medical Research Methodology. 13:86, 2013 Jul 02. 

de Vries RB, Hooijmans CR, Tillema A, Leenaars M, Ritskes-Hoitinga M.  A search filter for increasing the retrieval of animal studies in Embase. Lab Anim.2011;45(4):268-70 


Durão S, Kredo T, Volmink J. Validation of a search strategy to identify nutrition trials in PubMed using the relative recall methodJ Clin Epidemiol. 2015;68(6):610-6


Frazier JJ, Stein CD, Tseytlin E, and Bekhuis T. Building a gold standard to construct search filters: a case study with biomarkers for oral cancer. J Med Libr Assoc. 2015;103(1): 22–30.


Glanville J, Lefebvre C, Miles JNV, Camosso-Stefinovic J. How to identify randomized controlled trials in MEDLINE: ten years on. J Med Libr Assoc. 2006; 94: 130-136.


Glanville J, Foxlee R, Wisniewski S, Noel-Storr A, Edwards M, Dooley G. Translating the Cochrane EMBASE RCT filter from the Ovid interface to Embase.com: a case study. Health Info Libr J. 2019 Jul 22. doi: 10.1111/hir.12269. 

Hausner E , Waffenschmidt S , Kaiser T , Simon M. Routine development of objectively derived search strategies. Syst Rev; 2012; 1 (1). Article Number: 19.

Lefebvre C, Glanville J, Beale S, Boachie C, Duffy S, Fraser C, Harbour J, McCool R, Smith, L. Assessing the performance of methodological search filters to improve the efficiency of evidence information retrieval: five literature reviews and a qualitative study Health Technology Assessment 2017; 21.69.

Li, J; Lu, Z.  Developing topic-specific search filters for PubMed with click-through data. Methods of Information in Medicine. 52(5):395-402, 2013.

Linder S, Kamath G, Pratt G, Saraykar S, Volk R. Citation searches are more sensitive than keyword searches to identify studies using specific measurement instruments. J Clin Epidemiol. 2015;68:412-7

Neilson C, Lê ML. A failed attempt at developing a search filter for systematic review methodology articles in Ovid Embase. J Med Libr Assoc. 2019 Apr;107(2):203-209. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2019. 
Epub 2019 Apr 1.

Pols DH;  Bramer WM;  Bindels PJ;  van de Laar FA;  Bohnen AM. Development and validation of search filters to identify articles on family medicine in online medical databases. Ann Fam Med. 2015;  13(4):364-6.

Sampson M, Zhang L, Morrison A, Barrowman NJ, Clifford TJ, Platt R, Klassen TP, Moher D. An alternative to the hand searching gold standard: validating methodological search filters using relative recall. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2006;6:33.

White V, Glanville, JM, Lefebvre, C, Sheldon, TA. A statistical approach to designing search filters to find systematic reviews: objectivity enhances accuracy. J Info Sci. 2001; 27:357-370.

Wilczynski NL, Morgan D, Haynes RB; Hedges Team. An overview of the design and methods for retrieving high-quality studies for clinical care. BMC Med Inform Dec Mak. 2005;5:20.

Wilczynski NL, McKibbon KA, Haynes RB. Search filter precision can be improved by NOTing out irrelevant content. AMIA Annu Symp Proc 2011;2011:1506-13

Wilczynski NL,  Lokker C,  McKibbon KA, Hobson N, and Haynes, RB. Limits of search filter development. J Med Libr Assoc. 2016 Jan; 104(1): 42–46.