Tracking your searches

Tracking your Searches

It is important to record the steps you take in your research process.  This ensures that your results are reproducible.  It will also make it easier to remember what happened at each step of the process when you come to write your paper/report.

You can easily record your search strategies in an excel spreadsheet.  Make sure to include:

  • Database name
  • Search terms (strategy)
  • Date of search
  • Limits/Filters used
  • Number of results
  • Number of results after you remove duplicates
  • Relevant results

For grey literature you will also need to record

  • URL of the website

There may be other items you wish to record.  Sometimes it is good to have a Comments/Notes section. 

  • Sample Search Strategy Tracking excel spreadsheet
  • The University of Texas School of Public Health provides a detailed Excel workbook for tracking search strategies and results and to screen titles/abstracts called PIECES for systematic reviews. 


Content last reviewed: October 2, 2020