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Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 809–810 | Cite as

Google Search as an Additional Source in Systematic Reviews

  • Jan Piasecki
  • Marcin Waligora
  • Vilius Dranseika
Open Access
Letter

Marko Curkovic in his letter (2017) points out that using Google Search in our systematic review (Piasecki et al. 2017) could have led to the so-called “bubble effect”, a form of selection bias. We take seriously this concern. Google Search is indeed an imperfect tool to perform systematic reviews: the search algorithm is not known and cannot be controlled, Google adapts the search to each user in order to personalize information and, as a result, a systematic search is quite probably not replicable. To avoid problems related to a personalized search, the primary source of the data in our study was a systematic search in PubMed. Searches in Google Scholar and Google Search were considered to be additional sources only. We expected that the total number of documents will be low, and we were rather more concerned with the comprehensiveness of our search than its representativeness, having in mind the qualitative, not the statistical character of the study. Moreover, in order to avoid personalization of search results, we logged off from all Google accounts. We regret that we did not describe this step in our paper. As a result, Google Search allowed to identify three additional guidelines.

Google Scholar and Google Search are considered to be important sources of grey literature, governmental and institutional reports (Haddaway et al. 2015; Hagstrom et al. 2015). In performing our study, we assumed that not all the guidelines have been published in scientific journals. Therefore, although Google Scholar and Google Search have their limitations and should not be used as the only source for systematic reviews, both seemed to be apt for the purposes of some types of qualitative systematic reviews.

References

  1. Curkovic, M. (2017). Need for controlling of the filter bubble effect. Science and Engineering Ethics.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-017-0005-1.Google Scholar
  2. Haddaway, N. R., Collins, A. M., Coughlin, D., & Kirk, S. (2015). The role of Google Scholar in evidence reviews and its applicability to grey literature searching. PLoS ONE, 10(9), e0138237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hagstrom, C., Kendall, S., & Cunningham, H. (2015). Googling for grey: Using Google and Duckduckgo to find grey literature. In Abstracts of the 23rd Cochrane Colloquium. Cochrane database systematic reviews supplements (pp. 1–327).Google Scholar
  4. Piasecki, J., Waligora, M., & Dranseika, V. (2017). What do ethical guidelines for epidemiology say about an ethics review? A qualitative systematic review. Science and Engineering Ethics, 23, 743.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-016-9829-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.REMEDY, Research Ethics in Medicine Study Group, Department of Philosophy and Bioethics, Faculty of Health ScienceJagiellonian University Medical CollegeKrakówPoland
  2. 2.Department of Logic and History of Philosophy, Faculty of PhilosophyVilnius UniversityVilniusLithuania

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