Entries in Articles (40)


Literature Search Reporting in Systematic Reviews

Nice study on search reporting.  The meat of the discussion is basic for librarians, but it's nice to see the topic get acknowledged in an medical journal.
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICJME)’s Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals instruct authors to “[i]dentify the methods, apparatus (give the manufacturer’s name and address in parentheses), and procedures in sufficient detail to allow others to reproduce the results."  Although all three of the journals included in our study recommend that submitting authors follow ICJME guidelines, none of  the reviews we examined provided descriptions of their search strategies in enough detail as to be—based on our criteria—reproducible. Most often, the absence of the Boolean operators used to combine search terms and the absence of a specific search date in reporting precluded the ability to reproduce a search. These absences are not unique to medical education: A study of randomly selected meta-analyses in clinical medicine reported that only 6.7% reported a search strategy in enough detail to be reproduced.


On Developing a MEDLINE Filter

Interesting article.  My preference would be to explicitly include the subject headings and drop the .mp.  Eg: 

exp "heart failure"/ or "heart failure".tw

I tend to use .tw instead of .mp b/c the latter is basically undefinable.  From Ovid:


The fields searched by a .MP search may vary, but in general a .MP search looks in the Title, Original Title, Abstract, Subject Heading, Name of Substance, and Registry Word fields.

The 'may vary' is odd.  Hence, my preference for .tw.


Plus, considering .mp includes the subject heading, an .mp search should capture all [exp heart failure/] results.  Weirdly, that isn't the case:

I checked a few of the search 3 results and all had heart failure subject headings, but lacked 'heart failure' keywords.  This shouldn't matter, of course, if the above definition is true and .mp includes subject headings. But, for whatever reason, there's a discrepancy.  An .mp issue, probably.

In any case, I wouldn't use their filter, but I like the write up.


How Much Searching Is Enough?

When I'm working on time-consuming searches (such as systematic reviews), I'll generally stop after a) ensuring the known relevant articles are captured by the strategy, b) making a concerted to break the strategy (by finding relevant articles that aren't captured), and c) coming to some sort of understanding with the lead investigator.

It turns out there are, according to PMID 20923586, at least 8 methods to indicate when to call it quits (from the abstract).

  • Capture-recapture technique
  • Obtaining Feedback
  • Seeking the Disconfirming case
  • Undertaking comparison against a known Gold standard
  • Evaluating retrieval of Known items
  • Recognizing the Law of diminishing returns
  • Specifying a priori Stopping rules
  • Identifying a point of Theoretical saturation

 Who knew?


My New Favourite Article


Experience and Peer-Review

An interesting read on the purported decline in performance of peer reviewers as they gain experience.   Yes - age and its associated declines makes sense:


Other than the well-documented cognitive decline of humans as they age, there are other important possible causes of deterioration of performance that may play a role among scientific reviewers. Examples include premature closure of decisionmaking, less compliance with formal structural review requirements, and decay of knowledge base with time (ie, with aging more of the original knowledge base acquired in training becomes out of date).


But twas a loss of motivation that first popped to my mind:


Competing career activities and loss of motivation as tasks become too familiar may contribute as well, by decreasing the time and effort spent on the task. Some research has concluded that the decreased productivity of scientists as they age is due not to different attributes or access to resources but to “investment motivation.”

At some point reviewers must start seeing it as more of a chore than as a philanthropic service to the community. 

(via Retraction Watch)

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