The John W. Scott Health Sciences Library at the University of Alberta has developed a freely available online course called Introduction to Systematic Review Searching:
Search strategies are critical components of evidence synthesis research and are:
documented and described in the Methods section of published reviews
included as an Appendix in published reviews
Follow guidance from PRISMA on how to report search strategies in a systematic review:
Rethlefsen, M.L., Kirtley, S., Waffenschmidt, S. et al. PRISMA-S: an extension to the PRISMA Statement for Reporting Literature Searches in Systematic Reviews. Syst Rev 10, 39 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13643-020-01542-z
Expect an iterative process, beginning with preliminary searching before developing a final comprehensive search strategy.
You will develop a sophisticated combination of keywords, subject headings, search syntax and logic operators to retrieve the optimal number of studies for an evidence synthesis project
A search strategy must include both keywords and subject headings to be comprehensive and avoid these pitfalls:
Systematic review database searching cheat sheet - health focus
Note that evidence synthesis reviews require searching in multiple subject databases, each of which have their own:
Controlled vocabulary (subject headings)
Syntax operators e.g. truncation, adjacency operators
Once your foundational search strategy is complete, you will need to translate it using the language and syntax of other databases to ensure it is replicated as closely as possible.