Synonym rings or search filters are presented in this Wiki for anyone to use.

Synonym rings are collections of topic identifying words, phrases and acronyms. The terms may not be fully synonymous but still each term has the same functionality of finding articles on the same topic.

The Pearl Harvesting synonym rings have been derived from multiple topic related sources.

Once developed a synonym ring can be used by anyone therefore making it easier than having people recreate their own every time.

These synonym rings are meant to be used in a comprehensive search using a search function such as ALL FIELDS in MEDLINE or ANYWHERE in PsycINFO or ERIC.

To use a Pearl Harvested synonym ring click on the left side of the home page (List of synonym rings).

A list of topics will be presented, organized around the PICOS structure (Population, Intervention or Predicator Variables), Control group (seldom used) and desgisn of study.

Click on a topic of interest

Read the notes on the page where the synonym ring is located

Copy the synonym ring, making sure to copy every character. Characters can easily be lost when copying therefore making an error in the search.

Not every search term may be necessary so it is easy to delete the ones not required.

Note for very large synonym rings it may be advisable to only use the most general terms and not use every specific term. This is especially true when using Google Scholar as it only accepts 32 terms.

Very large synonym rings might not work in the Advanced Search of PsycINFO and ERIC. In that case one has to use the command line. Each synonym ring is entered by using ALL(search filter 1) AND ALL(search filter 2) etc.

Open a database, such as MEDLINE, PsycINFO or ERIC

Copy the search terms of the synonym ring into one search box.

Repeat with other synonym rings copying and pasting each one into a subsequent search box.

For example Synonym ring 1 AND Synonym ring 2 AND etc.

It may seem on the surface that this will not yield precise searchers.

However, precision is dealt with in a number of ways.

  1. The search question should be well defined.

  2. Double quotations are used around phrases

  3. Detailed search terms can be used rather than general terms, e.g., rather than use the term review, use “systematic review” OR “quantitative review” OR “realist review” OR etc.

  4. Using multiple synonym rings will produce greater precision rather than using just one or two.

  5. If the number of citations is high then it is likely that there have been systematic reviews done on the topic, so include an extra synonym ring using the one provided here for systematic reviews.

There are also published studies on the Pearl Harvesting approach which are linked from the home page at the bottom left.

If you have any problems using these synonym rings I am happy to help (sandie@uwo.ca)