Most databases will allow you to save your search strategy. You may have to set up an account on the database platform before you can do this, but this is a quick and simple process. You can then re-run your search at any time. When you wish to save and download the search results you can export the records in a variety of formats such as Word, Excel or formats designed for special, referencing software applications such as EndNote. You can then screen the search results offline and annotate the records if you wish.
In addition to saving your search strategy online, you should keep a copy of the search strategy offline too: the exact search terms used, date of search, plus any limits applied, and the number of results retrieved for each database searched. You may need this information when you come to report the search methods when writing up your report, or if you want the search strategy to be peer reviewed.
Depending on the number of search results retrieved (and the purpose of your search), there are various reference management tools which can help you process the search results, such as removing any duplicates and screening the records. This type of software can also produce citations in a variety of referencing styles, which can be very useful if you are writing up your work for publication. Examples include EndNote, RefWorks, Zotero, Citavi and some of these tools are freely available. There’s also an App called Rayyan which allows you to share your search results with multiple authors/collaborators, where records can be double screened, blinded to each other’s decision to ensure no mistakes are made when selecting which records to keep.
Once you have carried out your initial search, you may want to set up alerts in selected databases to receive notifications when new articles are published. In addition, there are various organisations that provide bulletins and other outputs to share the latest developments in a field or topic. A few of these are listed here and your local NHS library may also produce their own: