Handsearching involves the page-by-page examination of relevant journal issues, conference proceedings and other publications for relevant studies. In addition, the checking of reference lists of journal articles and other documents retrieved from a search.
Why is handsearching important?
Hopewell S, Clarke MJ, Lefebvre C, & Scherer RW. (2007). Handsearching versus electronic searching to identify reports of randomized trials. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.MR000001.pub2
Handsearching identified between 92% to 100% of the total number of reports of randomized trials found in the various comparisons in this review. Searching MEDLINE retrieved 55%, EMBASE 49% and PsycINFO 67%.
“Handsearching still has a valuable role to play in identifying reports of randomized trials for inclusion in systematic reviews of health care interventions, particularly in identifying trials reported as abstracts, letters and those published in languages other than English, together with all reports published in journals not indexed in electronic databases.”