Concept: Search engine optimization
Objective To evaluate the impact of searching clinical trial registries in systematic reviews.Design Methodological systematic review and reanalyses of meta-analyses.Data sources Medline was searched to identify systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) assessing pharmaceutical treatments published between June 2014 and January 2015. For all systematic reviews that did not report a trial registry search but reported the information to perform it, the World Health Organization International Trials Registry Platform (WHO ICTRP search portal) was searched for completed or terminated RCTs not originally included in the systematic review.Data extraction For each systematic review, two researchers independently extracted the outcomes analysed, the number of patients included, and the treatment effect estimated. For each RCT identified, two researchers independently determined whether the results were available (ie, posted, published, or available on the sponsor website) and extracted the data. When additional data were retrieved, we reanalysed meta-analyses and calculated the weight of the additional RCTs and the change in summary statistics by comparison with the original meta-analysis.Results Among 223 selected systematic reviews, 116 (52%) did not report a search of trial registries; 21 of these did not report the information to perform the search (key words, search date). A search was performed for 95 systematic reviews; for 54 (57%), no additional RCTs were found and for 41 (43%) 122 additional RCTs were identified. The search allowed for increasing the number of patients by more than 10% in 19 systematic reviews, 20% in 10, 30% in seven, and 50% in four. Moreover, 63 RCTs had results available; the results for 45 could be included in a meta-analysis. 14 systematic reviews including 45 RCTs were reanalysed. The weight of the additional RCTs in the recalculated meta-analyses ranged from 0% to 58% and was greater than 10% in five of 14 systematic reviews, 20% in three, and 50% in one. The change in summary statistics ranged from 0% to 29% and was greater than 10% for five of 14 systematic reviews and greater than 20% for two. However, none of the changes to summary effect estimates led to a qualitative change in the interpretation of the results once the new trials were added.Conclusions Trial registries are an important source for identifying additional RCTs. The additional number of RCTs and patients included if a search were performed varied across systematic reviews.
One of the best sources for high quality information about healthcare interventions is a systematic review. A well-conducted systematic review includes a comprehensive literature search. There is limited empiric evidence to guide the extent of searching, in particular the number of electronic databases that should be searched. We conducted a cross-sectional quantitative analysis to examine the potential impact of selective database searching on results of meta-analyses.
Google Scholar (GS), a commonly used web-based academic search engine, catalogues between 2 and 100 million records of both academic and grey literature (articles not formally published by commercial academic publishers). Google Scholar collates results from across the internet and is free to use. As a result it has received considerable attention as a method for searching for literature, particularly in searches for grey literature, as required by systematic reviews. The reliance on GS as a standalone resource has been greatly debated, however, and its efficacy in grey literature searching has not yet been investigated. Using systematic review case studies from environmental science, we investigated the utility of GS in systematic reviews and in searches for grey literature. Our findings show that GS results contain moderate amounts of grey literature, with the majority found on average at page 80. We also found that, when searched for specifically, the majority of literature identified using Web of Science was also found using GS. However, our findings showed moderate/poor overlap in results when similar search strings were used in Web of Science and GS (10-67%), and that GS missed some important literature in five of six case studies. Furthermore, a general GS search failed to find any grey literature from a case study that involved manual searching of organisations' websites. If used in systematic reviews for grey literature, we recommend that searches of article titles focus on the first 200 to 300 results. We conclude that whilst Google Scholar can find much grey literature and specific, known studies, it should not be used alone for systematic review searches. Rather, it forms a powerful addition to other traditional search methods. In addition, we advocate the use of tools to transparently document and catalogue GS search results to maintain high levels of transparency and the ability to be updated, critical to systematic reviews.
Sepsis is an established global health priority with high mortality that can be curtailed through early recognition and intervention; as such, efforts to raise awareness are potentially impactful and increasingly common. We sought to characterize trends in the awareness of sepsis by examining temporal, geographic, and other changes in search engine utilization for sepsis information-seeking online.
Staff from the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the US describe recent improvements to the PubMed search engine and outline plans for the future, including a new experimental site called PubMed Labs.
Within systematic reviews, when searching for relevant references, it is advisable to use multiple databases. However, searching databases is laborious and time-consuming, as syntax of search strategies are database specific. We aimed to determine the optimal combination of databases needed to conduct efficient searches in systematic reviews and whether the current practice in published reviews is appropriate. While previous studies determined the coverage of databases, we analyzed the actual retrieval from the original searches for systematic reviews.
Animals have evolved intricate search strategies to find new sources of food. Here, we analyze a complex food seeking behavior in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) to derive a general theory describing different searches. We show that C. elegans, like many other animals, uses a multi-stage search for food, where they initially explore a small area intensively (‘local search’) before switching to explore a much larger area (‘global search’). We demonstrate that these search strategies as well as the transition between them can be quantitatively explained by a maximally informative search strategy, where the searcher seeks to continuously maximize information about the target. Although performing maximally informative search is computationally demanding, we show that a drift-diffusion model can approximate it successfully with just three neurons. Our study reveals how the maximally informative search strategy can be implemented and adopted to different search conditions.
We live in a computerized and networked society where many of our actions leave a digital trace and affect other people’s actions. This has lead to the emergence of a new data-driven research field: mathematical methods of computer science, statistical physics and sociometry provide insights on a wide range of disciplines ranging from social science to human mobility. A recent important discovery is that search engine traffic (i.e., the number of requests submitted by users to search engines on the www) can be used to track and, in some cases, to anticipate the dynamics of social phenomena. Successful examples include unemployment levels, car and home sales, and epidemics spreading. Few recent works applied this approach to stock prices and market sentiment. However, it remains unclear if trends in financial markets can be anticipated by the collective wisdom of on-line users on the web. Here we show that daily trading volumes of stocks traded in NASDAQ-100 are correlated with daily volumes of queries related to the same stocks. In particular, query volumes anticipate in many cases peaks of trading by one day or more. Our analysis is carried out on a unique dataset of queries, submitted to an important web search engine, which enable us to investigate also the user behavior. We show that the query volume dynamics emerges from the collective but seemingly uncoordinated activity of many users. These findings contribute to the debate on the identification of early warnings of financial systemic risk, based on the activity of users of the www.
Chemically modified trypsin is a standard reagent in proteomics experiments but is usually not considered in database searches. Modification of trypsin is supposed to protect the protease against autolysis and the resulting loss of activity. Here we show that modified trypsin is still subject to self-digestion and as a result modified trypsin derived peptides are present in standard digests. We depict that these peptides commonly lead to false positive assignments even if native trypsin is considered in the database. Moreover, we present an easily implementable method to include modified trypsin in the database search with a minimal increase in search time and search space while efficiently avoiding these false positive hits.
Efficient storage and retrieval of digital data is the focus of much commercial and academic attention. With personal computers, there are two main ways to retrieve files: hierarchical navigation and query-based search. In navigation, users move down their virtual folder hierarchy until they reach the folder in which the target item is stored. When searching, users first generate a query specifying some property of the target file (e.g., a word it contains), and then select the relevant file when the search engine returns a set of results. Despite advances in search technology, users prefer retrieving files using virtual folder navigation, rather than the more flexible query-based search. Using fMRI we provide an explanation for this phenomenon by demonstrating that folder navigation results in activation of the posterior limbic (including the retrosplenial cortex) and parahippocampal regions similar to that previously observed during real-world navigation in both animals and humans. In contrast, search activates the left inferior frontal gyrus, commonly observed in linguistic processing. We suggest that the preference for navigation may be due to the triggering of automatic object finding routines and lower dependence on linguistic processing. We conclude with suggestions for future computer systems design.