Available Until 12/31/2025

Advanced Search Techniques and Resources for Systematic Reviews and Other Evidence Syntheses*

Check the SRSS catalog and watch for announcements of the next offering of this course.

Searchers, even expert searchers, always have more to learn. In this iteration of the MLA course Glanville and Lefebvre have taught most years since 2015, you’ll learn their latest advanced techniques for building search strategies for systematic reviews and other major search projects.

You’ll gain skills in identifying search terms and selecting search concepts, using free text mining techniques to identify search terms, finding and handling retractions, reviewing your searches, deciding which search filters to use and when, addressing common and not-so-common pitfalls, and more.

You’ll start the course with readings and reflection questions available upon registration, and you’ll have homework and discussion questions between sessions and opportunities for discussion and questions of instructors after the second session.

This course is an approved elective for Level I of the Systematic Review Services Specialization.

Attendance maximum: 20

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Apply techniques to identify search terms to build your search strategies
  • Explain the importance of retractions
  • Search for retractions
  • Identify the complexities and pitfalls of updating searches
  • Apply a validated checklist to peer review your own and others’ searches
  • Select and assess search filters for specific study designs
  • Explain the value of the Cochrane Library and Embase for advanced searching


Participants should have basic knowledge of databases (Boolean operators, thesaurus (MeSH) terms and syntax) and experience in searching databases, such as MEDLINE/PubMed.


Julie Glaville, MCLIP

Julie Glanville, MCLIP, is an independent information consultant focusing on advice, training, and research in information retrieval and strategy design. She is also co-manager of the SuRe Info resource and the ISSG Search Filters Resource. Julie was previously the Associate Director of the York Health Economics Consortium (2008-2020) and of the UK's Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (1994 - 2008). She is a qualified librarian and has worked in the field of systematic reviews since 1993. She is a co-author of the Cochrane Handbook chapter on searching for studies and has contributed to the development of systematic review guidance for several organizations, including the UK's Centre for Reviews and Dissemination and the European Food Safety Authority.

Carol Lefebvre, HonFCLIP, is an independent information consultant, focusing on training, consultancy, and research since setting up her company in 2012. Before that she was the Senior Information Specialist at the UK Cochrane Centre based in Oxford, UK, where she was involved in the founding of Cochrane in 1992. She is a qualified librarian and worked for 7 years as the Deputy Librarian at the University of Oxford Medical School Library before joining Cochrane. She is Lead Convenor of the Cochrane Information Retrieval Methods Group, lead author of the searching for and selecting studies chapter of the Cochrane Handbook and a member of the SuRe Info Steering Group.

Carol and Julie have been teaching together since the mid-1990s, focusing on information retrieval to support systematic reviews and other evidence syntheses. They have taught continuing education courses at MLA annual meetings since 2014.

MLA CE Credits: 6