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The Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library is an electronic resource produced by the Cochrane 

Collaboration, an international non-profit organisation. The Cochrane Library is considered to be the best single source of evidence about the effects of health care interventions.

The Cochrane Library (ISSN 1465-1858) is a collection of six databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making, and a seventh database that provides information about Cochrane groups.


The databases include:

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) 

  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) 

  • Cochrane Methodology Register (CMR) 

  • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE) 

  • Health Technology Assessment Database (HTA) NHS Economic Evaluation Database (EED) 

The Cochrane Library Training Hub provides access to short training videos, user guides and webinars. These offer you the chance to learn more about the Cochrane Library and how to use it.

Searching the Cochrane Library

1. Browse Articles by Topic,  Review Group or Database

· Cochrane Review: You can browse articles by topic or by Cochrane review group. 

· Trials: You can search the trial database

· More Resources: You can also browse by database.


2. Basic Search

The basic search feature enables you to enter search terms into a single text box.

· Type your search word into the search box.

· The search function searches by title, abstract or keyword.

· If your search requires more than one term to be entered, you will need to use  Boolean operators (AND / OR / NOT) in the search box, which will broaden or focus your search.


3. Advanced Search

On the main Cochrane Library home page click on the Advanced Search link. The advanced search function enables you to search by title, abstract & keyword, or by other limits e.g. author (see drop-down box)










· You can use Medical Terms (MeSH)

· There is an option to add limits to your search

· You will notice a Boolean selector to the left of the search box. If you click on the + symbol on the left, you can enter the appropriate command to connect your search words together.

4.  Medical Terms (MeSH)

· Medical Subject Headings, or MeSH, is the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) controlled vocabulary thesaurus used by NLM for indexing articles from the leading biomedical journals for MEDLINE®/PubMED®.

· MeSH searching allows an easy way to search for medical concepts using a single entry point, without having to enter large lists of synonyms for that concept. Since MeSH is displayed in a hierarchical (tree) structure, it allows users to search, in one step, a single term plus the more specific terms that appear under it in the hierarchy.

· Use the Medical Terms (MeSH) Tab to search for medical concepts using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus.


5. Search Manager

· Use the Search Manager to create and save complex multi-line searches. Supports the use of logical operators, field labels, nesting, and wildcards.

· Enter search term(s) in box. By default on Search Manager Tab, common variants of the word are NOT searched.

· Search terms. If two or more terms are entered, search will combine the terms with “AND” to find articles or selected fields where both terms appear. To search a phrase, put terms in quotes, “lung cancer” searches for that specific phrase.

· Word variants. When a term is entered, the search automatically finds the variants of the word, eliminating the need to enter common variants.

·  Searching multiple terms. Finds articles where all terms must appear in the article (or selected fields).

· Phrase searching. To search for a phrase, put terms in quotes. Phrase search does  NOT support the use of wildcards.

· Combining searches. Combine results from multiple search lines into a single result set can be done using Boolean logic (AND, OR, NOT) and nesting. Precedence rules apply if nesting is not used.

· Combining using ranges. When combining searches, users can enter line numbers separately, #1 and #2 and #3 and #4 or search a range of lines, {AND #1-#4}. Range searching can be used with “AND” or “OR” operators and must be enclosed in {}. As with individual line numbers, inserting or deleting a line will automatically update the line in which search ranges are combined.

· Limits. Use the limits button to limit by database, status, review group or date. There are two databases to choose from: Publication Year or Cochrane Library Online Publication Date.

· Adding MeSH. Use the MeSH button to add a MeSH term to the Search manager.

· Adding/deleting lines. Use the + and - buttons to add or delete search lines. 

· Viewing results. To view results, click on the result count for that search line.

· Naming and saving Strategies. To save a strategy, user must be registered and logged into their account.

· Exporting. Use the export icon in the Strategy Library to generate a text version of your saved strategy without counts.

Useful Boolean Logic

AND - this will focus your results and retrieve documents containing both search terms. N.B. There is an assumed Boolean of AND when you enter more than one word in the search box, e.g. Cranberry juice AND urinary tract    infection.


OR - will widen your search and retrieve at least one of the required search terms. This is useful if you have two or more similar terms, e.g. Infection control OR cross infection


NOT - can be used to exclude certain words, e.g. adolescents NOT children. Use with caution as this will eliminate potentially useful articles that contain both terms.


NEAR - finds the terms when they are within 6 words of each other. Terms can appear in either order, e.g. cancer near lung (finds lung cancer and cancer of the lung)


NEXT - finds the terms when they appear next to each other, e.g. hearing NEXT aid* (finds hearing aid and hearing aids)


WILDCARDS (* or ?) - an asterisk or question mark used at the beginning, middle or end of a word can replace any number of unknown letters, e.g. nurs* will retrieve nurse, nurses, nursing etc. and orthop?edic will retrieve orthopaedic and orthopedic.


QUOTATION / SPEECH MARKS (“ ”) - can be used to search for an exact phrase, e.g. "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”

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