Trip Database Blog

Liberating the literature


October 2017

Automated reviews – timeline to release

We’ve revealed our automated review system but it’s still not ready for everyone to use but we now have a timeline:

  • End of November – all the variables used are generated automatically and all of these are having significant work done on them to improve them.
  • December – the images we’ve shown do not do it justice so we’ve employed the services of a data visualisation expert.  She’s in demand so will not start till December and will deliver the results by the end of the month.
  • January – all systems will be plugged in and then released to a small number of people to beta-test
  • End of January – system released to the world.

So, there you have it, just over three months time we should have our currently good system made truly amazing.


Boolean, truncation and other such things

Below are some search tips to help users get the most out of Trip! If we’ve missed anything then please let us know by emailing Thanks to Igor Brbre for assisting with this! We’ll highlight:

  • Boolean
  • Truncation
  • Phrase searching
  • Proximity searching
  • Date range
  • Title versus body of text
  • Other key ways to maximise results in Trip


We support simple and complex boolean searches using the operators AND, OR and NOT:

Trip’s advanced search (Pro only feature) tends to make this easier!


Use the asterisk:

Phrase searching

Use quotation marks:

Proximity searching

This finds terms that are close to each other, how close is up to you:

Date range

Title versus body of text

By default Trip searches all of the document that we have indexed (so this might be an abstract or the full-text, depending on what the publisher has made freely available) but you can restrict to title only:

In the latter examples it retrieves articles with ‘prostate cancer’ in the title and ‘screening’ and ‘psa’ anywhere in the body of the text.

Advanced search (Pro only feature)

Advanced search makes all the boolean much easier:

Combination searches (Pro only feature)

As ‘combination searches’ is too long for the navigation, we’ve called in ‘recent’ (open to suggestions for a better term!).  It allows you to combine complex searches:

Other stuff!

See image below for a number of key features:

NOTE: below each result there is a line of tools:

  • Tweet this – if you’re on Twitter you can tweet the result
  • Star this – if you’re signed in this will save it to view later (via the ‘Starred‘ link at the top of the page)
  • Report broken link – if you find a dead link, press this and let us know
  • Related – finds related articles
  • ‘clicks’ – Pro feature only, shows how many times an article has been clicked

Other features

  • Smart Search – helps prevent you missing vital references, really easy and powerful feature
  • Assessment of bias – for all controlled trials we use the latest automation techniques to assess trials for bias (critical appraisal)
  • Answer engine – using various algorithms we find the best available answer to the question (which we’ve also inferred from your search terms)

Automated reviews – why?

In my previous post on our automated review system I concentrated on describing the product. This is all fine, but one quotation I’m trying to remember in my day-to-day life is:

So, why do what we’re doing?  The reasons are multiple and include:

  • Years ago I had a conversation with someone and I ended up sending them a link to a set of Trip search results.  They said that was fine, if he had a few hours to read them – which he didn’t.  I started to wonder if there was a way of automatically scanning the literature to allow people to really easily get a feel for a topic area.  So, you might want to see what interventions are useful for a given condition (perhaps the first line has failed).  Our system will automatically generate a list of interventions with an estimate of likely effectiveness.
  • The Trip Answer Engine is hugely popular and we can use the technology to boost the content.  So, it solves a problem for Trip (how to boost coverage) and it solves the problem of quick access to information for a specific clinical question.  So, a user might want to search for acne and lasers we can pull through an answer along the lines of “Lasers have been studied in 12 RCTs and have been broadly favourable” we can link to all the articles (if the user has the time) but we can also rank the intervention, saying something like “Lasers are ranked 3 out of 8 for interventions in acne“.  This seems incredibly useful to me.
  • Updating guidelines and reviews are problematic.  With our system you could ‘watch’ an intervention and get alerts when new evidence is generated.  Or, even more useful, when new research is published that contradicts the previous findings.
  • Rapid reviews are increasingly important and the automated system could form a core part of any semi-manual rapid review tool.
  • Intellectual challenge!

So, one product – multiple problems solved!

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