Developing and Applying a Protocol for a Systematic Review in the Social Sciences

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The article reports on a systematic method of undertaking a literature search on the educational impact of being a young carer (16–24 years old). The search methodology applied and described in detail will be of value to academic librarians and to other education researchers who undertake systematic literature searches. Seven bibliographic databases and Google Scholar were searched between November 2015 and January 2016. Two and three concept search structures were compared, involving 28 search terms plus truncation variants. One hundred and eighty-one relevant articles were retrieved. Sensitivity, precision,and “unique articles retrieved” were used as metrics. Social Care Online and Google Scholar had the greatest sensitivity. As well as meticulous use of AND, OR, and bracket operators, the use of NEAR and NOT operators to increase precision were tested and are recommended as useful tools for conducting systematic searches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages23
JournalNew Review of Academic Librarianship
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jan 2018


  • Academic librarians
  • literature search
  • bibliographic database
  • Google Scholar
  • education
  • young carer


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