😣 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
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
🛑 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:
‼️ Lack of Parenthesis
Especially when using Boolean operators, the order matters, and parenthesis help us give a priority.
A priority can shrink the results to a fraction:
❌ Lack of morphological variations of the terms
Usually a bad truncation of the word will provide you too many or too few results:
⚕️ 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:
💊 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:
🔍 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.
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.
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