Tutorial Instructions

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In this tutorial, you will learn about the Cochrane Library, a database available through the GSU Library.  This database is the leading resource for systematic reviews in health care and helps answer clinical questions.


Tutorial Instructions

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The tutorial is interactive and you will be able to search Cochrane Library with the screen to the right.


When you need to search the database you'll see the picture below.


Tutorial Instructions

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What you will learn


After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:


  • Run a basic search in the Cochrane Library
  • View or find the full text of the article or record you find in the Cochrane Library

Tutorial Instructions

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There will be periodic questions during the tutorial and you will be able to check to see if you answered correctly.


At the end of the tutorial there will be a short final quiz. A passing score is 80% (8 out of 10 questions correct).


If you're using this tutorial as part of a GSU class, a completion certificate will be sent to your  instructor to verify that you have completed the quiz with a passing score.  You can also print it out for yourself.

Accessing the Cochrane Library

Access the Cochrane Library from the library website, whether on or off campus, so you'll have access to our full-text subscriptions.


You can find the link under Databases A-Z or Databases by Subject under one of the health sciences.




You can get back to this “front page” of the Cochrane website by clicking the Cochrane logo in the upper corner of the website.



You can also use the "back" button in your browser to move through pages in the right frame.

About the Cochrane Library

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The Cochrane Library is the work of the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent, international, not-for-profit group of experts.


They produce and disseminate systematic reviews of healthcare interventions, called the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

About the Cochrane Library

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The Cochrane Library is a collection of six databases, two of which contain systematic reviews.


What is a Systematic Review?

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What is a Systematic Review?

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Evidence-based practice uses high-quality evidence to help find the best solution to a health care problem.  This is often illustrated as a pyramid.


Systematic reviews provide the highest level of evidence because they compare and summarize results of large, well-conducted randomized controlled trials (RCTs).


Randomized controlled trials are experiments that randomly (by chance) assign participants to two or more treatment groups. Randomly allocating patients helps reduce selection bias by researchers.


What is a Systematic Review?

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A "Cochrane Review" is a systematic review written by the Cochrane Collaboration and follows a highly-structured evaluation format.


Each Cochrane review addresses a clearly formulated question; for example: Can antibiotics help in alleviating the symptoms of a sore throat?

What is a Systematic Review?

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What are systematic reviews?

Doing a Basic Search

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There are several ways to find information in Cochrane:


  • Search by keyword
  • Search with advanced search options (such as using MeSH, setting limits, browsing by Topic or Review Group, etc.)


Cochrane is a much smaller database than MEDLINE, so a basic search across all text and all databases is a good place to start.


When using the basic search option, searches are performed across all six of the databases.

Doing a Basic Search

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Enter, or copy and paste the terms below into the Cochrane Library search box and search for:


osteoarthritis exercise

Doing a Basic Search

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The Cochrane page should show you results similar to this:



The graphic above tells you that a total of 700 results were found; 22 from Cochrane Reviews and 42 Other Reviews by other authors (from the DARE database).


The most results were found in CENTRAL, the clinical trials database.

Doing a Basic Search

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Cochrane displays the results sorted by relevance; change the sort order by using the pull-down menu above the results.


The results shown are from the Cochrane Reviews by default. To see the results from other databases, click the button next to the database name.


Doing a Basic Search

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Change the pull-down menu to sort by Date and scroll through the results.


NOTE that each Cochrane Review is labeled as a Review or a Protocol.

= A full Cochrane Review


= The document that guides the researchers working on a new review.


Protocols are helpful to read when YOU are writing a systematic review.  They can help you understand how to compile your data and write up the report.

Doing a Basic Search

6 of 6Some Cochrane reviews have a status button with more information about the document such as what type of review it is, or about its current status.



Advanced Search Tools

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When you do a search in Cochrane the results page shows the Advanced Search boxes at the top.  Three types of searches are available.




  • Basic Search
  • Search Manager
  • Medical Terms (MeSH)

Advanced Search Tools

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Search Tab


Use the Search tab to build quick searches with few terms.  You can use the pull-down menu to choose what field you want to search (e.g. Author, Source, etc.) The field defaults to the broadest search of Title, Abstract, Keywords.


The Search tab allows you to build searches by combining several different concepts using Boolean operators (AND, OR or NOT).  Insert additional search lines using the + and - signs to the left of the search box.


Use the Search Limits link under the search pull-down menu to limit your results by date range, database, or article status.


Use the "Add to Search Manager" link to the right of a search box to build a search.

Advanced Search Tools

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Search Manager Tab


The Search Manager tab allows you to build searches and save search strategies. With this tab you can use Boolean and proximity operators, and combine search lines.


You can join your individual searches together using the syntax

#1 and #2


Advanced Search Tools

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Medical Terms (MeSH) Tab


The third tab, Medical Terms (MeSH) allows you to build a search using Medical Subject Headings.  Available terms are autocompleted as you type.


A second search box allows you to enter subheadings or qualifiers, such as Adverse Effects or Diagnosis.


The MeSH view shows the matches to your term and the Search results from each database on the far right.

Advanced Search Tools

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A fourth tab, Browse allows you to browse an A-Z list of topics or Cochrane review groups.


Advanced Search Tools

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Click the "Browse by Review Group" link and then click the 'Movement Disorders Group' link.


How many results are listed under Complementary & Alternative Medicine?

Search Strategies

In Cochrane, you can use proximity operators to narrow your search by finding words near or next to each other, such as:


(gestational near diabetes)


(gestational next diabetes)


You can also search for word variations by using truncation, wildcards and quotation marks.



random* (finds random or randomized or randomized or randomly, etc)


wom?n (finds woman or women)



"physical therapy" (finds only that specific term)

Viewing Search Results

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Click on the first record from the previous search (this will open in a new window.)

Viewing Search Results

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In the Cochrane database, only Cochrane Reviews have full-text.  For other citations, such as those from DARE, you will need to search for the citation in PubMed.


Copy the title and paste it into the PubMed database search field.  Locate the Find it @ GSU button to get the full text or order through GSU's Interlibrary Loan service, which is fast and free.



If you find a Cochrane Review citation in PubMed or through an EBSCO search, the link should lead you to the full-text in the Cochrane database.

Viewing Search Results

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A basic search in the Cochrane Library searches:


Almost Done!

The next screen is the final quiz. 



  • You won't see your score until AFTER you complete the quiz and enter your contact information.
  • You won't be able to change your answers after you submit your quiz.








We hope that this guide was a helpful introduction to the Cochrane Library. If you have questions, or need additional help please contact one of the GSU health sciences librarians at this link. 




Current as of 5/8/2017.


What is the Cochrane Library useful for locating?

Cochrane Reviews:

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are a highly regarded type of study because...?

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews includes:

Search Cochrane to find a systematic review on mammography in low-income women published in 2005.  What is the name of the journal it was published in?

Use the Browse tab to find the Topic "Effective practice & health systems." How many reviews are listed under "Delivery of healthcare services"?

Where would you find abstracts only of systematic reviews?

Enter Vitamin C in the search box and set the Search Limits to the date range of 2000-2010. How many Cochrane Reviews were published during this period?

Use the Medical Terms (MeSH) search tab to look for TENS and the subheading Adverse Effects.  How many Cochrane Reviews are found?

What types of limiters can you use in your search strategy?

Please enter your first and last name, along with your email address to retrieve a copy of your completed quiz. A copy will also be automatically sent to the class instructor.

What did you think of this tutorial?