Article

Where you search determines what you find: the effects of bibliographic databases on systematic reviews

Citation

Wanyama SB, McQuaid RW & Kittler M (2021) Where you search determines what you find: the effects of bibliographic databases on systematic reviews. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2021.1892378

Abstract
Systematic literature reviews are common in social research for integrating and synthesising existing research. This paper argues that the outcomes of such reviews are affected by the choice of bibliographic databases. It presents evidence of substantial variation across three large electronic databases (Scopus, Web of Science and EBSCO) in a study on employee retention and staff turnover. It considers the specific articles, numbers returned, numbers shared across databases and perceived quality of journals hosting the retrieved articles. Results show that only 130 articles (5.7% of 2267 retrieved) were found common to all three databases, suggesting that decisions on how and where literature is retrieved can substantially affect the results of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The findings caution against the use of single databases and claiming comprehensiveness. The paper reflects on how additional literature search methods (e.g., contacting experts, citation indices) and their sequence of use can affect systematic review quality.

Keywords
Systematic literature review; database search; literature review; meta-analysis

Notes
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Journal
International Journal of Social Research Methodology

StatusIn Press
Publication date online05/03/2021
Date accepted by journal09/02/2021
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/32436
PublisherInforma UK Limited
ISSN1364-5579
eISSN1464-5300