BACKGROUND: Methodological search filters are tools for retrieving database records reporting studies which use a specific research method. Choosing a filter is likely to be based on filter performance data. This review examines which measures are reported, and the way that filter performance is presented, in filter comparisons.
METHODS: Studies were identified from the current content and pending update (2010) of a filter website. Eligible studies compared two or more methodological search filters designed to identify randomised controlled trials, diagnostic test accuracy studies, systematic reviews or economic evaluations.
RESULTS: Eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria. The number of filters compared in a single study ranged from 2 to 38. The most commonly reported measures were sensitivity/recall and precision. All studies displayed results in tables and gave results as percentages or proportions. Two studies supplemented results tables with graphical displays of data: a bar graph of the proportion of retrieved and missed gold standard references per filter; a forest plot of the overall sensitivity and specificity of each filter.
CONCLUSIONS: Sensitivity/recall and precision are the most frequently reported performance measures. This review highlights the potential for presenting results in novel and innovative ways to aid filter selection.
- bibliographic databases
- information storage and retrieval
- methodological filters