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Usefulness of contacting other experts when conducting literature searches

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 24 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:259

Secondary citation of work that was not published did not set good example

  1. Patrick Chariot, Senior registrar in legal medicine and toxicology,
  2. Vivien Pautot, Medical student
  1. Hôpital Henri Mondor, 94010 Créteil, France
  2. Geelong Hospital, PO Box 281, Geelong 3220, Australia
  3. Department of General Practice, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT
  4. Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility, Department of Public Health, University of Birmingham

    EDITOR—McManus et al described the usefulness of hand searching and contacting other experts when conducting a literature search.1 The eight authors were all contributors, and one of them acted as guarantor.1

    As occasional authors of systematic reviews we were particularly interested in the assertion that “electronic databases, such as Medline, may detect only about half of papers identified by the gold standard of hand searching journals.” We read the paper cited as the reference for this information. It was another BMJ article.2 We could not, however, find the original data suggesting that hand searching is a gold standard, or that electronic databases find only half of relevant papers. Reference was made to another work. Whether this was the original source of data is still unclear to us, since the reference was not an to article or even an abstract but to a communication presented at a workshop held in March 1992.

    McManus et al's short paper …

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