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Universiteitsbibliotheek – LibGuides

EBM Literature Sources : 3. Cochrane

Cochrane Library

Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library contains a complete overview of all  Cochrane Systematic Reviews. In addition, you can search in five more databases within Cochrane, including DARE (systematic reviews that have not been developed by Cochrane) and CENTRAL (the database of RCTs/clinical trials compiled by Cochrane).

The Cochrane Library focusses particularly on the effectiveness of interventions, so is chiefly meant for therapy-related questions.

Searching the Cochrane Library

In the boxes on these page you will find information about searching in the Cochrane Library:

  • Searching in title/abstract
  • Searching with the help of keywords
  • Combining searches
  • Tips & Tricks

Searching in title/abstract

As a rule, the Cochrane Library searches ‘Title, Abstract or Keywords’. The keywords are not only MeSH terms but also EMTREE terms (the keywords from Embase) and other keywords.

For instance, if you want to repeat a PubMed search in Cochrane, you can use the option ‘Advanced Search’.

Cochrane - search

The terms you want to use to search in title/abstract (for instance, just like in PubMed) you can enter in the tab 'Search Manager'. In each search box you can enter several synonyms, divided by OR. To search in title/abstract in Cochrane you put :ti,ab behind each search term. How to combine several searches can be found in the part 'Combining searches'.


Cochrane - zoeken op title/abstract

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To search for a word group in Cochrane you use double inverted commas, just like in PubMed ( for instance “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis”). You can also truncate search terms with an asterisk (*). If you want to truncate a word group, you have to separate the individual word that you would like to truncate from the rest of the word group with the Boolean Operator NEXT. E.g. hearing NEXT aid*, will result in searching the search terms 1.) hearing aid and 2.) hearing aids.

Searching by keywords

Just like in PubMed, you can use MeSH terms in the Cochrane Library. However, in Cochrane you must search on each MeSH term separately - use the tab  ‘Medical Terms (MeSH)’ in ‘Advanced Search’.  Enter the MeSH term (that you found earlier in PubMed) and click on ‘Lookup’.


Cochrane - MeSH

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In the next screen you will see the position of the term in the hierarchic structure of keywords. As a rule, all underlying keywords are considered as well (‘Explosion all trees‘); you can choose to switch off this option. The search will be automatically executed. Click on 'View Results' to view the results or on ‘Add to Search Manager‘ to combine the search with other searches (see 'Combining searches').

Please note: If you have already done a PubMed search with MeSH terms you don't actually have to search with MeSH terms in the Cochrane Library. This is because Cochrane does not add MeSH terms to articles; searching with MeSH only yields articles you would have found in PubMed anyway.

Cochrane - results

Combining searches

In the tab ‘Search Manager’ of ‘Advanced Search' you can combine searches. In this screen you will see earlier searches which you have added to ‘Search Manager’ (see above). In an empty search box enter the numbers of the searches in question (preceded by a hash tag) and combine these with AND, OR or NOT. If necessary you can use brackets. Click on  ‘Go’ to do the search and you will be shown the number of results that this search yields. By clicking on the number you will open the screen with results.

Cochrane  - search manager

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Tips & Tricks

  • In the results you will not only find  ‘Cochrane reviews’, but also results from five other databases. The results under ‘Other reviews’ and ‘Trials’ are certainly worth looking at - often you will find extra references here which cannot be found in PubMed!

    Cochrane - results