A Computational Approach for Objectively Derived Systematic Review Search Strategies

Proceedings of the 42nd European Conference on IR Research

Searching literature for a systematic review begins with a manually constructed search strategy by an expert information specialist. The typical process of constructing search strategies is often undocumented, ad-hoc, and subject to individual expertise, which may introduce bias in the systematic review. A new method for objectively deriving search strategies has arisen from information specialists attempting to address these shortcomings. However, this proposed method still presents a number of manual, ad-hoc interventions, and trial-and-error processes, potentially still introducing bias into systematic reviews. Moreover, this method has not been rigorously evaluated on a large set of systematic review cases, thus its generalisability is unknown. In this work, we present a computational adaptation of this proposed objective method. Our adaptation removes the human-in-the-loop processes involved in the initial steps of creating a search strategy for a systematic review; reducing bias due to human factors and increasing the objectivity of the originally proposed method. Our proposed computational adaptation further enables a formal and rigorous evaluation over a large set of systematic reviews. We find that our computational adaptation of the original objective method provides an effective starting point for information specialists to continue refining. We also identify a number of avenues for extending and improving our adaptation to further promote supporting information specialists.