Appraisal of: Wright K, Golder S, Rodriguez-Lopez R. Citation searching: a systematic review case study of multiple risk behaviour interventions. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2014; 14:73.

Short description: 

Study about the effectiveness of using the citation sources Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science and OVIDSP MEDLINE to identify records for inclusion in a systematic review about multiple risk behaviour interventions.

40 included studies were used identified by traditional database searches from one systematic review. Each of the included studies was searched for in the four citation sources to retrieve the details of all papers that have cited these studies.

The highest number of citations was retrieved from Google Scholar (1680), followed by Scopus (1173), then Web of Science (1095) and lastly OVIDSP (213). To retrieve all the records identified by the citation tracking searching all four resources was required. Google Scholar identified the highest number of unique citations. The citation tracking identified 9 studies that met the review’s inclusion criteria (recall 22,5%).

Conclusion: Citation searching as a supplementary search method for systematic reviews may not be the best use of valuable time and resources.

Limitations stated by the author(s): 

In terms of searching, the scoping review had very broad coverage. Its aim was to identify any intervention promoting change in at least two risk behaviours and the search strategy incorporated terms for all of these (smoking, alcohol misuse, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, illicit drug use, sexual risk behaviour, lack of seat belt use, lack of motorcycle/bicycle helmet use, lack of sunscreen use, gambling, poor oral hygiene and drink driving) in various set combinations. The resulting complexity will almost certainly have had an impact upon the overall performance of the database search strategies. As with any case study, there is uncertainty about how far the results of this study can be generalised, especially to other reviews with a more restrictive focus.

Limitations stated by the reviewer(s): 
No additional limitations were detected by the reviewers.
Study Type: 
Single study