PRESS Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies: 2015 Guideline Statement

J Clin Epidemiol. 2016 Jul:75:40-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2016.01.021. Epub 2016 Mar 19.


Objective: To develop an evidence-based guideline for Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies (PRESS) for systematic reviews (SRs), health technology assessments, and other evidence syntheses.

Study design and setting: An SR, Web-based survey of experts, and consensus development forum were undertaken to identify checklists that evaluated or validated electronic literature search strategies and to determine which of their elements related to search quality or errors.

Results: Systematic review: No new search elements were identified for addition to the existing (2008-2010) PRESS 2015 Evidence-Based Checklist, and there was no evidence refuting any of its elements. Results suggested that structured PRESS could identify search errors and improve the selection of search terms. Web-based survey of experts: Most respondents felt that peer review should be undertaken after the MEDLINE search had been prepared but before it had been translated to other databases. Consensus development forum: Of the seven original PRESS elements, six were retained: translation of the research question; Boolean and proximity operators; subject headings; text word search; spelling, syntax and line numbers; and limits and filters. The seventh (skilled translation of the search strategy to additional databases) was removed, as there was consensus that this should be left to the discretion of searchers. An updated PRESS 2015 Guideline Statement was developed, which includes the following four documents: PRESS 2015 Evidence-Based Checklist, PRESS 2015 Recommendations for Librarian Practice, PRESS 2015 Implementation Strategies, and PRESS 2015 Guideline Assessment Form.

Conclusion: The PRESS 2015 Guideline Statement should help to guide and improve the peer review of electronic literature search strategies.

Keywords: Evidence synthesis; Guideline; Information retrieval; Literature search; Peer review; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval / methods*
  • Peer Review / methods*
  • Review Literature as Topic*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / methods*