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Pharmacy Research Skills Guide: Cochrane Library

About the Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library is produced by the Cochrane Collaboration, "an international not-for-profit and independent organization, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of health care readily available". It makes available systematic reviews of healthcare interventions, while promoting the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions. The Cochrane Library is one of the prime international and independent sources of evidence-based medicine information.

Access to the Cochrane Library is free in Australia, so keep in mind that this is a database you will be able to access even after you have completed your studies.

What are Systematic Reviews?

Searching the Cochrane Library

The Cochrane Library consists of 7 databases.

Three of these databases should be of particular interest to clinicians and consumers (and students!):

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (also known as Cochrane Reviews)
  • Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (also known as DARE)
  • Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (also known as CENTRAL)

For sophisticated searching it is recommended that you go to Advanced Search.

Let’s say we wish to search the Cochrane Library for material on pharmacokinetics AND absorption...

  • Enter your search terms as in the screenshot below, use 1 search line/box for each concept (Note: you can add further search boxes by clicking the + symbol adjacent to the search box).
  • Retain the AND as the combining operator between the 2 lines of search
  • Set both search fields adjacent to the search boxes to search All Text

Viewing Search Results

Cochrane Library defaults to displaying search results with the Cochrane Review results showing first, with access to results from the other databases via the tabs above the search results.


Viewing a systematic review:

To access the full text of a systematic review click on the title of the review.

Note that the initial display is to the Abstract, with tabs and links to other sections of the Review, or view the full Review, in HTML or PDF.

Viewing a Clinical Trial record:

As with the list of Systematic Reviews, the title is a link to the full record. But with these Trials, you just get the citation and abstract of the journal article (most clinical trials are reported in journal articles):

To access a Clinical Trial, you would have to track down the article noted in the citation, you could try searching for an article title you locate this way in Primo Search. For information on how to locate journal articles via Primo Search please see: Find ebooks and articles in Primo Search

Tip: From the Advanced Search Screen in Cochrane you can access the Browse reviews option from the drop-down Cochrane Reviews menu. The browse option enables you to browse by topic, an option you can use when you are unsure of the best search terms to use in this database.

For more information on searching the Cochrane Library please see: Cochrane Library Help

Cochrane Library - Activity

""Open the Cochrane Library and try searching for the keywords – pharmacokinetics AND absorption, entered as in the example above.

Alternatively you could try searching for terms or key concepts you have identified from your own clinical or research question.

Remember to select the Advanced Search option before entering your search terms.

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