Appraisal of: "Janssens, A. C., Gwinn M. Novel citation-based search method for scientific literature: application to meta-analyses. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2015 15: 84."
In two independent studies, the authors aimed to reproduce the results of literature searches for sets of published meta-analyses (n = 10 and n = 42). For each meta-analysis, they extracted co-citations for the randomly selected ‘known’ articles from the Web of Science database, counted their frequencies and screened all articles with a score above a selection threshold. In the second study, the authors extended the method by retrieving direct citations for all selected articles.
In the first study, they retrieved 82 % of the studies included in the meta-analyses while screening only 11 % as many articles as were screened for the original publications. Articles that were missed were published in non-English languages, published before 1975, published very recently, or available only as conference abstracts. In the second study, they retrieved 79 % of included studies while screening half the original number of articles.
Citation searching appears to be an efficient and reasonably accurate method for finding articles similar to one or more articles of interest for meta-analysis and reviews.