Systematically retrieving research: a case study evaluating seven databases

Brian Taylor, Emma Wylie, Martin Dempster, Michael Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Developing the scientific underpinnings of social welfare requires effective and efficient methods of retrieving relevant items from the increasing volume of research. Method We compared seven databases by running the nearest equivalent search on each. The search topic was chosen for relevance to Social Work practice with older people. Results Highest sensitivity was achieved by Medline (52%), SSCI (46%) and CINAHL (30%). Highest precision was achieved by AgeInfo (76%), PsycInfo (51%) and Social Services Abstracts (41%). Each database retrieved unique relevant articles. Conclusions Comprehensive searching requires the development of information management skills. The Social Work profession would benefit from having a dedicated international database with the capability and facilities of major databases such as Medline, CINAHL and PsycInfo.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2007


  • Databases, bibliographic; evidence based practice; information storage and retrieval; review literature as topic.


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