The Illusion of Knowledge and Expertise in the Field of Evidence Synthesis and Systematic Reviewing

Google Search vs. I’m Feeling Lucky
Many who claim to know systematic searching don’t even know the difference between the two buttons of Google Search, and I’m Feeling Lucky buttons on Google’s homepage.
  • It is to clean the review team’s mess after rejection from a journal;
  • or to reply to a peer-review comment that asks the reason for missing half of the studies;
  • or because the editor cannot reproduce the search results;
  • or the search strategy is not there and the librarian’s retired, and we cannot find the searches!
  • I want to do a systematic review in one week (no team, no question, no protocol).
  • I want to publish a systematic review with X number of studies (yeah, you wish! Tune your exclusion criteria and kill more people or add to research waste).
  • I want a search strategy that gives me only these 11 papers (put each title between two double quotations and combine their titles with OR; you won’t need me).
  • I need to publish this review that has no protocol in 3 weeks (and I need to retire ASAP).
  • Would that be enough if I search EBSCO and Ovid? (of course, give it a try and show me how to do it)
  • I need a publication for my CV, and my supervisor said the systematic review is the easiest option. Can I have one, please (of course; where’s your protocol and team?)
  • I want to publish a systematic review on my own and only want to search PubMed for my systematic review (As long as you are OK with receiving rejection letters from the journals).


  • Respect the professionalism and ethics in research practice.
  • Little knowledge is more dangerous than lack of knowledge.
  • Depending on the complexity, a proper systematic review requires a team of clinicians, systematic reviewers, information specialists, methodologists, statisticians, epidemiologists, and health economists.
  • Finding out the difference between Google Search and I’m Feeling Lucky buttons on Google’s homepage will NOT make you a search expert, but it is fun!




A Proper Information Scientist/Professional with a Pinch of Career and Life Lessons

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