The CLAHRC WM Director is provoked by the ever increasing – indeed, exponentially increasing – number of articles returned by standard literature searches. At this rate, screening all the articles identified by a typical search will be all but impossible within two decades. Some form of systematisation is necessary.
A start has been made in clinical research through the creation of the McMaster Premium LiteratUre Service (PLUS) database of pre-appraised clinical studies. PLUS is generated by manually reviewing 120 clinical journals for high-quality articles using a reproducible selection process. A paper comparing PLUS with 89 recent Cochrane reviews, found that while PLUS contained fewer articles, restricting searches to PLUS did not change the conclusions of any of the Cochrane reviews included in the sample.
The PLUS database is a start, but:
- it still relies on manual review;
- it is confined to clinical research.
A method is urgently required to:
- improve coding of topic and study type;
- automate compilation of bibliographies;
- cover health and social care as a whole.
Literature retrieval processes will be radically different in two decades – they will have to be.
— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director
- Hemens BJ, Haynes RB. McMaster Premium LiteratUre Service (PLUS) performed well for identifying new studies for updated Cochrane reviews. J Clin Epidemiol. 2012; 65(1): 62-72.