Available Until 12/31/2024

Defining the Bare Minimum: Challenges in Search and Data Archiving for Systematic Reviews (Recording)

Documenting and sharing search strategies and archiving search-related data seems like it should be easy, especially with guidance from PRISMA-S and other reporting guidelines. But, even the bare minimum needed to document and archive search strategies and search-related data is complex and nuanced.

Melissa Rethlefsen, a reporting guideline author, and Mark MacEachern, an experienced searcher, both of whom have extensively studied search reporting and reproducibility, will show you how to balance what is ideal with what is practical and reasonable.

You’ll learn best practices for documenting and archiving search strategies and search-related data to ensure search and review reproducibility, and you’ll get an insider’s view on the debates and challenges surrounding these best practices.

The session begins with a refresher on key aspects of PRISMA-S related to optimal search strategy reporting and guidance on data sharing and moves on to more challenging topics and skills, including capturing searches as entered versus as translated, sharing in repositories versus journal supplemental files or both, creating README files and providing contextualization and meaning for archived search strategies and data, and copyright challenges for sharing RIS files.

Melissa and Mark will focus on practices designed to help you avoid common issues leading to search irreproducibility. Using polls, real-world examples, interactive skills-building, lecture, and discussion, they will help you make systematic review searches and search data as findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable as possible for researchers. You’ll learn in-depth strategies for reporting and sharing searches and search-related data and have an opportunity to think through and discuss challenging reporting and archiving-related issues.

This course is required for Level II of the Systematic Review Services Specialization.


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Apply best practices in documenting search dates, databases and platforms, and results

  • Explain the pros and cons of various methods of search strategy documentation and sharing

  • Identify options for repositories to archive and share search-related data

  • Recognize the importance of search and search-related data archiving for search reproducibility

  • Apply practices for search strategy and search-related data archiving and sharing

  • Recognize key challenges and nuances inherent in search documentation, archiving, and sharing



Medical librarians and other information professionals who have experience conducting systematic review searches and need to document their work. Familiarity with the principles of PRISMA-S and data repositories will be helpful.




Melissa Rethlefsen, AHIP is the lead author of the PRISMA-S reporting guideline, an extension to PRISMA 2020 focused on search strategies. She is also an advisor for CABI's searchRxiv tool, the first repository designed for search strategies. Her most recent research focuses on the reproducibility of search strategies in biomedical systematic reviews.

Mark MacEachern photoMark MacEachern is co-lead faculty of the MLA Research Training Institute, lead instructor of the open edX course Advanced Literature Searching in the Health Sciences, and former lead of the MLA CE course Systematic Reviews: Opportunities for Librarians. Right now, he’s focusing on data management, documentation for evidence syntheses, and a free webinar series called Taubman Talks.



Registration Information

  • Length: 1.5 hour webinar
  • Technical information: After you have registered, go to My Learning in MEDLIB-ED to access the webinar, resources, evaluation, and certificate.
  • Register, participate, and earn 1.5 MLA continuing education (CE) contact hours.

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