IS (Information Specialist) Team

The Information Specialist (IS) team are involved in all of ESMI’s workstreams.

From reviews of clinical and cost effectiveness for the Technology Assessment Review team (PenTAG), Cochrane reviews with PenCLAHRC’s Evidence Synthesis Team and the European Centre for Environment & Human Health (ECEHH), and theory-led or qualitative reviews for PenTAG (e.g. SDO) , the team play a critical role in the delivery of information.


Paper on an alternative approach to screening the results of Google Search: November 2021

Simon and Morwenna’s paper on an alternative approach to screening the results of Google Search for a systematic review has been published in HILJ

Paper on the use of search summary tables: January 2021

Alison and Morwenna's paper on the use of search summary tables to improve systematic review search methods, results, and efficiency (with colleague Rebecca Abbott) was published in January 2021 in the Journal of the Medical Library Association -

Paper on the conduct of web searching in Cochrane Reviews: December 2020

Simon’s paper on the conduct of web searching in Cochrane Reviews (with colleagues Michael Nunns and Liz Shaw) was published in the December 2020 edition of Health Information and Libraries Journal The paper describes and evaluates the conduct of web searching in a cross-sectional sample of Cochrane Reviews.

EAHIL 2018: July 2019

Morwenna and Alison attended the EAHIL conference in Cardiff to run two workshops on supplementary search methods and on using PRESS to check search strategies. The blog post can be read here.

Naomi Shaw and Sophie Robinson are co-authors on a new chapter on searching for Clinical Effectiveness available via SuRe Info: May 2019

SuRe Info (Summarized Research in Information Retrieval for HTA) provides a summary of the latest evidence on information retrieval aspects of producing systematic reviews and health technology assessments. The Clinical Effectiveness chapter is primarily based on Cochrane’s 2019 update of Searching for and selecting studies (Chapter 4) of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. The SuRe Info chapter will be updated with new evidence as this becomes available.

Alison Bethel attends Evidence Synthesis Hackathon 2019: April 2019

Alison Bethel attended the Evidence Synthesis Hackathon at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia on 8th-10th April 2019. The blog post can be read here.

Alison Bethel and Morwenna Rogers - authors of a chapter on searching techniques in ‘Systematic Searching – Practical ideas for improving results’: February 2019

Alison Bethel and Morwenna Rogers are authors of a chapter on searching techniques in ‘Systematic Searching – Practical ideas for improving results’ by Facet Publishing. Their chapter is titled ‘Choosing the right databases and search techniques’. Further details can be found here.

Blog post on citation searching: January 2019

Simon Briscoe has written a blog post on his experiences of citation searching for two Exeter HS&DR Evidence Synthesis Centre projects. The blog post can be read here.

Simon Briscoe - co-author of a chapter on searching for programme theories and evidence in ‘Doing Realist Research’: June 2018

Simon Briscoe is a co-author of a chapter on searching for programme theories and evidence in ‘Doing Realist Research’ to be published on the 30th June 2018 by SAGE Publications. Simon’s chapter is titled ‘Scoping and Searching to Support Realist Approaches’ and is co-authored with Andrew Booth (University of Sheffield) and Judy Wright (University of Leeds). Pre-order you copy now from a reputable book dealer!

Finding qualitative studies on dementia: a comparison of 4 databases and search strategies: June 2018

Morwenna and Alison have recently published their research on how to find qualitative studies on dementia efficiently. Their research found that simple strategies for qualitative related terms (like experiences, interviews and questionnaires) worked better than long complex lists of method terms and that CINAHL and PsycINFO were the most useful databases for this topic and study type. The subject headings in CINAHL for qualitative research were found to be particularly useful. The full paper can be read here:

Searching and Beyond: May 2018

In May, Alison and Morwenna travelled to the Friends Meeting House in London with Becca Abbott from the Evidence Synthesis Team to run our flipped classroom model Searching and Beyond course. The course was for the first time run in collaboration with North Thames NIHR CLAHRC and featured a talk from an IS based at the EPPI-Centre on the use of automation in reviews (

Commentary on the loss of NHS EED and DARE is ESMI pick of the month: April 2017

Simon Briscoe and Chris Cooper recently collaborated on a commentary on the loss of NHS EED and DARE. Read more about it here:

Simon Briscoe – Cochrane Handbook contribution on web searching: September 2016

At the end of August 2016 I submitted first drafts on web searching, citation chasing and proximity operators for the “Searching for Studies” chapter of the next major revision of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. The opportunity to contribute to the Cochrane Handbook arose after I presented on web search reporting standards in HTA reviews at the InterTASC ISSG Workshop in July 2014. Carol Lefebvre, editor of the “Searching for Studies” chapter, attended the workshop and invited me to develop my work on web searching in the context of HTA reviews into guidance for Cochrane systematic reviews. I was delighted to do so, and also contributed sections on citation chasing and proximity operators. I presented a preliminary outline of my proposed web searching guidance at the 2015 Cochrane Colloquium.

Alison Bethel - Joint Information Day (JiD): April 2016

In March I was invited to speak at the National Institute for Clinical Evidence’s (NICE) Joint Information Day (JiD) on my current search summary work which I’ve been developing over the last few years. I received a very positive response and I’m now working with a few others from across the UK to test out what I’ve developed. Meanwhile, Jenny has been busy uploading some of these onto our website. This was my first time attending JiD, the day was very informative and stimulated lots of discussions with interesting people. It is always a pleasure to meet and chat with other information professionals and have the opportunity to talk about the detail of what we do. Please visit our Resources section for further details.

Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP)

Launched in 2013, as a partnership of The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at University of California, Santa Barbara, SNAPP is a first-of-its-kind collaboration that delivers evidence-based, scalable solutions to global challenges at the intersection of nature conservation, sustainable development, and human well-being. For more information, please visit

Searching and Review Clinics (EST)

The searching and review clinics have been set up to help the PenCLAHRC Evidence Synthesis Team to manage and respond to systematic review related queries from within the geographical area covered by PenCLAHRC.  Whether you are an academic or an NHS professional who needs to know where to start on the systematic review process or how to go about designing a search strategy, you can book an appointment with one of our reviewers or information specialists.

For further information, please visit:

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