😣 6 most common errors in Literature Search Strategies affecting recall..

1. Incorrect use of Boolean operators 2. Lack of parenthesis 3. Lack of morphological variations 4. Missing MeSH terms 5. Non-proper MeSH tags 6. Miss synonyms

😣 6 most common errors in Literature Search Strategies affecting recall.

The amount of scientific literature grows daily, and PubMed stated that 2 articles are added to their index every minute. With over 30 million publications to browse from, search strategies play a crucial factor in finding the most relevant publications, removing noise, and not missing scientific evidence.

Problem is that 92.7% of searches on PubMed present errors. And 78% of these errors impact significantly the recall rate, which measures the number of relevant documents retrieved out of the total number of relevant documents.

The top six most common errors in Literature Search Strategies:

  • Incorrect use of Boolean operators
  • Lack of parenthesis
  • Lack of morphological variations of the terms
  • Missing MeSH terms
  • MeSH terms included, but without the proper tag [MeSH]
  • Missing Synonyms
92.7% of searches present errors. And 78% of errors impact recall.

🛑 Incorrect use of Boolean Operators

Mistaking "AND" for "OR" and vice-versa is extremely common and it hinders the quality of your searches directly.

A quick example on "breast cancer" shows a difference of a full order of magnitude:

"OR"retrieves almost 5M publications
"AND" retrieves half a million.

‼️ Lack of Parenthesis

Especially when using Boolean operators, the order matters, and parenthesis help us give a priority.

This query is treated as "(brest AND cancer) OR neoplasm". Returning either "breast cancer" OR "neoplasm".

A priority can shrink the results to a fraction:

Searching only for "breast" together with "cancer" or "neoplasm" as terms.

❌ Lack of morphological variations of the terms

Usually a bad truncation of the word will provide you too many or too few results:

Including all variations of the word "personal".
Including only "personalized" as a term with no variations.

⚕️ Missing MeSH terms

The query "breast cancer" used so far is overly generic and includes almost 5M publications. MeSH terms could help in narrowing with purpose while expanding semantically the search:

A proper search strategy with MeSH term declared.
Writing the MeSH term without a proper advanced search or syntax will end up in a query that does not hit MeSH terms.

💊 MeSH terms included, but without the proper tag

When viewing an article page we are presented with MeSH terms and tags. By selecting one of them, the new search performed will be done with correct tags:

Query with the proper MeSH tag.
The same search but without the proper MeSH tag.

🔍 Missing Synonyms

As shown in the previous query breast cancer, synonyms such as neoplasm are automatically retrieved by medical search engines such as PubMed. The most common mistake is the exclusion criteria imposed by using quotes and restricting the search to only certain words.

🚀 Solution

Start delegating the details of search strategies to automated tools. These tools can help researchers by automating the process of addressing the most common errors, reducing the number of errors and improving the recall rate.

For example, PapersHive prevented the above errors in 99% of the searches performed. Automated tools can filter out irrelevant articles and focus on the most relevant ones. Without sacrificing your time!

Everything starts with search.

With a smart suite of search tools to help you find the information you need, when you need it. Enhance your Search Experience with PapersHive Today!

Contact Us