Appraisal of: Rauprich O, Nolte M, Vollmann J. Systematische Literaturrecherchen in den Datenbanken PubMed® und BELIT: Ein Werkstattbericht. Ethik Med 2010; 22(1): 59–67.

Short description: 

The aim of the article is to present the systematic searching for Medical Ethics literature in the bibliographic databases BELIT (German Reference Centre for Ethics in the Life Sciences, DRZE) and PubMed (National Library of Medicine, NLM) by means of two examples. The purpose of the project is to evaluate the feasibility and capacity of BELIT and PubMed as well as to design optimized search strategies for these two databases.

The article provides information on the selected databases, the search strategies designed for each source, and on the comparative analysis of the search results. Subjects of application are the examples “Concept of health and disease” and “Ethical, legal, social and economic issues of financing fertility treatments”.

In both examples the searches yielded in several hundred hits each with a small overlap of 3 and 4% between BELIT and PubMed. The best results are achieved by combining controlled terms and free-text queries. Using different query languages (German and English) in BELIT further improves the result. While in PubMed building of complex search strategies is possible, BELIT is restricted to process simple search queries.

Limitations stated by the author(s): 

Due to the high effort needed to investigate the study is restricted to PubMed and BELIT. Other databases with information on ethical issues are neglected – although important for systematic searches.

Limitations stated by the reviewer(s): 
This journal article represents a short report version of the study. To fully understand the methods used it is necessary to study the long report version.
Study Type: 
Single study