Collecting and organising for students

You can set up an e-mail alert or RSS feed via the databases, which will inform you periodically about new articles in your subject area on the basis of your search strategy. Consult the Notifications section of your search query on the information sheets of the database in question (e.g. EmbaseGoogle ScholarPubMedScopusWeb of Science).

If you are interested in the most recent publications of a specific journal, you can receive a contents table via the website of JournalsTOCs website. You can subscribe to this service free of charge.

In a systematic review, a systematic search is performed for original studies that provide an answer to a given (research) question. The databases and methods of analysis used are referenced in the process. The results and background features that are found in the individual studies are explicitly evaluated and analysed.* The standards laid down by The Cochrane Collaboration and described in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions are generally regarded as the gold standard for writing a systematic review. Many organisations, including The BEME Collaboration, use this methodology. Watch a video from The Cochrane Collaboration, which briefly outlines what a systematic review is.

Contact information specialist Nele Pauwels for any advice and support about all aspects of writing a systematic review, for example writing, registering and/or publishing your protocol, searching the literature, selecting your studies, extracting and managing your data, the quality assessment, data synthesis and writing your publication.

*Source: Van Driel M. Verklarende woordenlijst voor evidence-based medicine. 2nd revised printing Ghent: Minerva, 2003. Available online.

When collecting data – and later during the entire process of your research – it is essential to respect the ethical standards. Some are imposed by legislation, others are generally accepted in (international) scientific practice. At the European and national level, there is legislation in force concerning scientific experiments with humans, human material and animals, and often concerning any scientific research that has a wider impact on humans and their environment.

For more information about the ethical aspects of human studies, you can visit the website of the Committee for Medical Ethics and Hiruz. Here you will find, among other things, guidelines per type of research, either academic or funded by industry. Academic research includes interventional research, retrospective research, prospective research and research in the context of a thesis or Z-line.

The committees advise, amongst other things, on Informed Consent, which is primarily intended to inform the participant in the study as comprehensibly and comprehensively as possible about the research and the follow-up care. By signing the Informed Consent, the participant gives his/her consent to take part in the study.

You can also obtain advice from them about a Trusted Third Party (TTP), a body that holds source code, data certificates and keys for third parties. In Belgium the TTP is the eHealth-platform of the Federal Government. Coding and anonymisation ensure that personal details are converted into coded or anonymous data, from which the identity of participants cannot be directly or indirectly deduced. More information is available on the Federal Government website.

For information about the ethical aspects of experiments with animals, you can consult the Ethical Committee for Animal Testing website.

Reference software (such as EndNote) will help you to build, manage and use a personal database with bibliographic references. You can easily import references and full text articles from databases such as PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science and the University Library catalogue. While writing your text, you can then easily include literature references and lists (Cite While You Write). The EndNote Desktop version is available on the Athena platform and offers numerous features for collecting and managing references.

Navigate to Processing > Citing and Referencing for more information and an answer to the following questions:

  • What is the difference between reference software packages EndNote, EndNote Web, Medeley, ReadCube and Zotero?
  • How does EndNote X8 differ from earlier versions?
  • Why should you convert a Reference Manager Database into an EndNote library, and how is it done?
  • How do I share references with a fellow researcher?
  • Where and when can I follow an EndNote information session/workshop?

If you would like more information or if you have any questions, please contact our information specialist Heidi Buysse or information assistant Muguet Koobasi.

Do you have a question related to your literature review or do you need help with searching, processing or publishing of your literature/data? Then please fill in our form to give us a clear view of your question and so that we can advise you efficiently. Alternatively, you could email us at