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Cochrane Library

A guide to searching and using the Cochrane Library

Combining and editing searches

To combine search steps

After you have built up a search step-by-step in the Search Manager tab, you can begin to combine the steps together.

Type into the search box the name of each search step to be combined (e.g. #1 AND #2) and click Continue. Tip: always type the # (hashtag) and the number with no spaces in between - e.g. #2 and not # 2, because a space will cause incorrect search results.

To view the results, click on the blue box which shows the number of search results returned.

You can combine steps using AND, OR, or NOT commands.

  • Use OR to combine synonyms. The results will contain any / at least one of the terms you entered. OR broadens your search and finds more results.
  • Use AND to combine different concepts. The results will contain both / all of the terms you entered. AND focuses your search and finds fewer results. 
  • NOT removes any result that contains a particular term. The results will contain any item where the first term appears but only if the second term does not appear too. Note: this means that you might accidentally remove useful results, so the use of NOT it to be treated with caution.

To edit a search step in the Search manager

There are two ways to edit a search step.

  • If the step you want to edit is displayed on a white background, you can simply click into the search box and type in your amendment directly.
  • If the step you want to edit is displayed on a shaded background, click either the 'S' or the 'MeSH' dropdown menu on the right (highlighted in yellow on the screenshot below) to open the box for editing, and then type in your amendement.

Screenshot of the Cochrane Search Manager