Systematic Bibliographic Database Searching for Literature Reviews: Case Study on Child Protection Decision-Making

Ravit Alfandari, Brian J. Taylor

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Skills of the 'information age' need to be applied to social work. Conceptual and practical aspects of using online bibliographic databases to identify research were explored using multi-professional decision-making in child protection as a case study. Five databases (Social Science Citation Index, Scopus, Medline, Social Work Abstracts and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) were searched for relevant studies, retrieving 6,934 records of which fifty-eight studies were identified as relevant. The usefulness of specific search terms and the process of learning from the terminology of previous searches are illustrated, as well as the value of software to manage retrieved studies. Scopus had the highest sensitivity (retrieving the highest number of relevant articles) and retrieved the most articles not retrieved by any other database (exclusiveness). All databases had low precision on this topic, despite extensive efforts in selecting search terms. Cumulative knowledge about search strategies and empirical comparison of database utility helps to increase the efficiency of systematic literature searching. Such endeavours encourage and support professionals to use the best available evidence to inform practice and policy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)518-535
    Number of pages18
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Volume52
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2022 The Author(s) 2021.

    Keywords

    • Bibliographic databases
    • Child protection
    • Child welfare
    • Decision-making
    • Eidence-based practice
    • Information storage and retrieval
    • Literature search

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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