Appraisal of: Glanville J, Cikalo M, Crawford F, Dozier M, McIntosh H. Handsearching did not yield additional unique FDG-PET diagnostic test accuracy studies compared with electronic searches: a preliminary investigation. Res Synth Methods. 2012; 3(3): 20

Short description: 

The aim of the investigation was to explore the role and value of handsearching in the identification of diagnostic test accuracy (DTA studies) of PET-CT for colorectal cancer. 12 journals were handsearched for reports of DTA studies. A total of 1147 potential reports of DTA studies were identified. No papers met the systematic review inclusion criteria.


Limitations stated by the author(s): 

It is possible that the six seed reviews selected to identify candidate journals to handsearch may not have been the most relevant reviews because no reviews of PET-CT were identified and the reviews explored a range of imaging modalities in CRC. However, subsequent investigation of the journal frequency analysis of the three most relevant seed reviews had little impact on the order of candidate journals in the overall frequency table or on the journals that yieldedmost papers for consideration in the Brush et al. (2011) review following handsearching. In neither the revised (three seed review) nor original (six seed review) frequency list did the Journal of Nuclear Medicine or the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine andMolecular Imaging appear as high yield journals, despite yielding the highest number of included studies for the Brush et al. (2011) systematic review.

This study encompassed the handsearch of 12 journals for 4.5 years. As noted earlier, there are many more journals that have included reports of FDG PET-CT diagnostic studies in CRC.

The analysis of the papers used to construct the journal frequency list by publication year and broad journal discipline category showed no clear trends in the publication of imaging studies in CRC. The journal discipline categories were broad and pragmatic, with no overlap between categories allowed. This may not reflect the exact nature or encompass the true diversity of the journals. This suggests that searches (handsearch or electronic) for DTA studies for imaging CRC cannot easily be limited to specific journal disciplines and means that identifying core journals to handsearch in this topic is problematic.

There were some resource constraints to this project that meant that the handsearch was not comprehensive in terms of searching journal special issues reporting on workshops, meetings and conferences. These issues often included high volumes (in the order of thousands) of abstracts of oral and poster contributions. Where conference abstracts were grouped by session theme, only the relevant groups of abstracts were handsearched: those sessions on CRC or imaging FDG-PET. This means that relevant abstracts may have been missed if they were categorized into different sessions than those searched; non-FDG-PET DTA conference abstracts in other sessions will also not have been captured. In the cases where conference proceedings failed to group the abstracts by session theme, it was often impractical to assess individual abstracts, and again, potentially relevant studies may have been missed.

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