What is the ISSG Search Filter Resource?

Search filters are collections of search terms designed to retrieve selections of records. Search filters may be designed to retrieve records of research using a specific study design or by topic or by some other feature of the research question.

Filters may have a very specific focus or may be high level. Search filters may be designed to maximise sensitivity (or recall) or to maximise precision (and reduce the number of irrelevant records that need to be assessed for relevance).

The methods used to compile search filters should be clearly described by the authors and critical assessment by users is also required. Search filters are not quality filters and all search results require assessment for quality. All search filters and all search strategies are compromises and an assessment of the performance of filters for your own research should always be made.

This resource lists known filters of interest to researchers producing technology assessments. Filters are usually published for a specific database interface. Often these filters are 'translated' or adapted to run on different interfaces to the database. Where these 'translations' are known, links will be offered.

To avoid potential duplication of effort and to encourage testing and use of new filters, the site also offers detail of research in progress and known completed but as yet unpublished filters. Other information retrieval research such as reviews of search filters is also offered.

To keep the resource up to date we are searching for new publications on a regular basis using a search protocol originally prepared by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland. The searching was subsequently conducted by the UK Cochrane Centre and will now be conducted by the ISSG Search Filter Resource editorial team.

The ISSG has developed a quality checklist to provide assessments of published filters designed to retrieve records by specific study design. This checklist has been published as:

Glanville J , Bayliss S, Booth A, Dundar Y, Fernandes H, Fleeman ND, Foster L, Fraser C, Fry-Smith A, Golder S, Lefebvre C, Miller C, Paisley S, Payne L, Price A, Welch K. So many filters, so little time: The development of a Search Filter Appraisal Checklist. Journal of the Medical Library Association. 2008; 96(4): 356-61.

We welcome your comments on the usefulness of the information presented so far. If you are engaged in search filter research and would be willing to tell us more so that we can record your information on these pages please send us further information.