Table 1

Recommendations for rapid review literature searching

Recommendation for rapid review (RR) searchingPotential differences with systematic review (SR) searchingAdditional information
Preparation and planningInvolve an information specialist (eg, librarian), ideally from the start of the project. At a minimum, an information specialist should assess the information sources, search methods, and the primary database search strategy.None. However, information specialist involvement can speed up the further steps of the search process.Online supplemental appendix C 1.1
Consider using PRISMA-S11 and prepared templates for planning and conducting the search to ensure the search process is thoroughly planned.PRISMA-S and general templates might need to be adapted to the chosen RR approach.Online supplemental appendix B
Conduct preliminary or scoping searches to identify a first set of potentially relevant literature, which will aid in topic refinement, selection of information sources and selection of search terms.None. This is a crucial step for any systematic search.Online supplemental appendix C 1.2–3
Information sources and search methodsSelect a small number (at least 2) of information sources that are likely to retrieve relevant literature.SRs generally use a larger number of information sources to ensure sensitivity.Online supplemental appendix C 2.1–4
For RRs based on RCTs, use, at a minimum, a combination of two of these databases: MEDLINE, CENTRAL, Embase.
In some cases, combining one of these databases (in particular MEDLINE) with an appropriate supplementary search method (eg, similar articles, study register searching) may suffice.
Both bibliographic databases and grey trial registers have to be searched. E.g.,MECIR9 requires searching MEDLINE, CENTRAL, Embase,, and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) to identify RCTs.Online supplemental appendix C 2.2
Use the findings of preliminary searches to assess if grey literature may be relevant for a topic and what types (eg, clinical trial registrations, preprints, theses).SRs generally include grey literature searches independent of the topic.Online supplemental appendix B and C 2.1
Search strategiesReview the abstracts and subject headings of known relevant records for appropriate search terms.SR search strategies generally aim to maximise sensitivity. RR searches may aim to increase precision to reduce the search result.Online supplemental appendix B,C 3.1–2
Identify SRs on the same or a similar topic and review the search strategies for elements that could be reused (eg, population, intervention).Most SRs searches are developed de novo for a particular review.Online supplemental appendix C 3.1–2
Use limits and restrictions appropriately and with caution.SRs should not restrict searches to languages, publication dates, etc.Online supplemental appendix C 3.4–5
When updating an existing review, assess the original search methods and adapt as necessary.None. Consider utilising guidance for updating SRs.39
Quality assurance and search strategy peer reviewValidate the primary search strategy by testing if known relevant records are retrieved.None. However, SR searches generally aim to find all known relevant records, while in precision-focused RR searches, a reduced sensitivity might be acceptable.Online supplemental appendix C 4.1
Use the PRESS checklist42 to peer review the primary search strategy. If full peer review is not possible, check the primary search strategy for errors of spelling, operator usage, and line number combinations.Full PRESS peer review is recommended for all SRs.Online supplemental appendix C 4.2
Review the appropriateness of planned information sources and search methods.None. However, this is particularly important if few information sources/search methods are used.Online supplemental appendix C 4.2
Reporting and record managementDecide on systems and processes for managing records early in the review planning stage.None. However, appropriate planning can save time throughout the process.Online supplemental appendix C 5.1–3
Consider using PRISMA-S11 as reporting standard for RR searches.PRISMA-S has been developed for SR searches. It might need to be adapted to the chosen RR approach .Online supplemental appendix B and C 5.1
Use reference management software (eg, EndNote, Zotero) and/or SR platforms (eg, Covidence, Systematic Review Data Repository Plus) to track search results throughout the review process.None. However, the appropriate use of these tools can save time throughout the process.Online supplemental appendix C 5.2–3
  • MECIR, Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews; PRESS, Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies; PRISMA-S, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses literature search extension; RCT, randomised controlled trial; RR, rapid review.