Information for handsearchers

The CHBG has produced a list of specialist journals that are being handsearched or are in need to be handsearched. The list is updated on an ongoing basis. For the latest information on journals in need to be handsearched, please contact the Trials Search Co-ordinator ( To avoid redundancy of work, information, on which specialist journals are full text searched, is forwarded to The US Cochrane Center which oversees prospective registration of all potential handsearching and maintains files of handsearching activity in the Master List (Journals) and the Master List (Conference Proceedings). Over 3,000 journals have been, or are being, searched within the Cochrane.

Handsearching requires a manual page-by-page examination of the entire contents of a healthcare journal issue or conference proceedings in order to identify all reports of randomised clinical trials, controlled clinical studies, meta-analyses, or diagnostic test accuracy studies. As reports of trials may be found in articles, abstracts, news columns, editorials, letters, or other text, it makes it necessary that whole journals or collection of publications are handsearched. It is imperative that handsearchers receive training in how to handsearch before they start with this activity. Handsearchers should  possess sufficient knowledge on trials and study designs as they should be able to identify all reports of trials and other relevant publications, irrespective of topic. Once a journal or a conference material has been handsearched, it will not need to be searched again. All articles published before 1991 should be handsearched as there was no indexing term for randomized trials in MEDLINE at that time. The same applies for those articles that are in parts of journals (such as supplements and conference abstracts). The latter are not routinely indexed in databases such as MEDLINE.

Relevant training material can also be obtained from the Trials Search Co-ordinator (