Use of information-seeking strategies for developing systematic reviews and engaging in evidence-based practice: The application of traditional and comprehensive Pearl Growing. A review

Ralf W. Schlosser, Oliver Wendt, Suresh Bhavnani, Barbara Nail-Chiwetalu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

52 Scopus citations


Background: Efficient library searches for research evidence are critical to practitioners who wish to engage in evidence-based practice (EBP) as well as researchers who seek to develop systematic reviews. Aims: This review will propose the benefits of the search technique 'Pearl Growing' ('Traditional Pearl Growing') as well as an adaptation of this technique ('Comprehensive Pearl Growing'), until now ignored by the literature on EBP and systematic reviews, to aid in the retrieval of research evidence. These search techniques are illustrated with examples from the field of augmentative and alternative communication. Main Contributions: Traditional Pearl Growing is proposed as an important addition to the arsenal of EBP search strategies for practitioners. The literature on Traditional Pearl Growing is extended in that EBP presents a newly identified purpose for this technique and the benefits in identifying appropriate quality filter goes beyond its previously exclusive focus on keywords. Comprehensive Pearl Growing is projected as a new strategy for researchers searching for studies to be included in systematic reviews. Not only does it provide data-based guidance in selecting effective keywords and quality filters, but also it provides appropriate databases. Conclusions: Although the techniques Traditional Pearl Growing and Comprehensive Pearl Growing are believed to be useful for locating research evidence in any field, it may be particularly important for interdisciplinary topics where the use of effective controlled vocabulary plays a greater role in bringing together evidence that may be scattered across databases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-582
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Literature searching
  • Systematic reviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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