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Systematic reviews: Cochrane Library

Cochrane Library Quick Link

What is the Cochrane Library?


  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)
  • Cochrane Clinical Answers

If you already have a Medline search strategy

Translating a search strategy from Ovid Medline to the Cochrane Library:

  • Use Advanced Search > Medical term (MeSH) - Search Manager tab
  • Good news - Cochrane Library uses MeSH like Medline (so you don't have to rethink the subject headings) BUT the syntax (commands) look radically different
  • Use the Polyglot tool to translate text search lines from Ovid Medline to Cochrane Library eg caregivers/ or caregiv*.ti,ab becomes [mh ^caregivers] OR caregiv*:ti,ab
  • Paste lines in individually and check that each one works before adding the next.
  • Limiting by date:
    • Needs to be done at the result stage, not as part of the search strategy (see below)
    • DO NOT USE THE LIMITS BUTTON to limit by date. This is not reliable, and can accidentally exclude results from different databases in the Cochrane library.
  • To see your results, click on the final number of results in the right column of the last search line.
  • This will open up results with a series of different tabs, which show which database your results come from eg Cochrane Reviews, or Trials.
  • Results need to be limited (if appropriate) and exported separately from within each tab. Usually you'll have results under at least two.

Example of limiting Trials results by date, and then selecting all citations to export. Note the different tabs, showing that Cochrane Reviews need to be limited and exported separately.

Top tips - searching the Cochrane Library

  • If you already have a Medline search strategy, translate that into Cochrane using the Polyglot Search Translator
  • If starting from scratch, Wiley search support: Cochrane Library training 

Guide Author

Helen Wilding, Senior Research Librarian

Carl de Gruchy Library, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne

Literature Searching, Systematic Reviews, Mental Health liaison 
Thursdays, Fridays & alternate Wednesdays
Helen's profile | Researchgate | Orcid