OTseeker - Occupational Therapy Systematic Evaluation of Evidence

Basic Search Help

OTseeker can be searched using a Basic Search or an Advanced Search. Each of these options can be accessed from most pages on OTseeker.

Basic Search

To find an article, type in keywords in the keyword box and click the Basic Search button. OTseeker will then search all articles in the database and retrieve articles that contain, in their abstract or title, the keyword/s you specified.

Search Results

The citations of the articles from the search are displayed on the Search Results page. By default, articles are sorted by relevance – that is, how closely they match the search criteria specified.

Most of the randomised controlled trials in OTseeker (prior to July 2013) have been critically appraised using the PEDro scale (partitioned) for 8 internal validity criteria and 2 statistical reporting criteria. At the bottom of each citation for randomised controlled trials the number of criteria that have been met for that trial is indicated. Details about what these criteria were for each trial can be found on the Detailed Search Results page for the relevant article.

Search Help Topics:

Searching Using Keywords

For the Basic Search keywords text box, OTseeker can search for the following:

  • A word or phrase (simple search).
  • The prefix of a word or phrase (prefix search).
  • A word or phrase near another word or phrase (proximity search).

Basic search - enter the words(s) to search for. If more than one word is entered, by default OTseeker will search for articles that contain all of the words specified. In other words, OTseeker combines the words using AND. For example, if you enter occupational therapy, OTseeker will return articles that contain the words occupational AND therapy (but not necessarily next to each other).

To search for a particular phrase, enclose the phrase in double quotation marks ("). For example, by typing "pain management" you will retrieve articles that contain that exact phrase. If you had entered pain management (without using double quotation marks), by default OTseeker will search for articles containing the words pain AND management (but the words don't need to be next to each other, so you may retrieve articles that aren't specifically about pain management).

Prefix search - enter the word to search for followed by an asterisk (*). For example, entering splint* will search for all articles that have words starting with splint (such as splint, splinter, splints, splinting).

Proximity search - enter the word or phrase, followed by NEAR and then the second word or phrase. For example, if you entered pain NEAR management, OTseeker will search for articles where the words or phrases are close to each other. Multiple proximity search terms can be chained. For example, electrical NEAR nerve NEAR stimulation.

Using operators to combine terms The above search types (simple, prefix and proximity) can be combined and multiple entries of each type can be entered. This can be achieved by using logical operators: AND, NOT, OR. Note, these operators must be typed in UPPERCASE. Parentheses, or round brackets "( )", can be used to group search criteria. The parenthesized groups are evaluated first, and then the following rules apply:

  • NOT is applied before AND.
  • The OR NOT operator is not allowed. NOT cannot be specified before the first term (for example, NOT "phrase_to_search_for").
  • AND is applied before OR.
  • Operators of the same type (AND, OR) are associative and can therefore be applied in any order.

Note that by default, OTseeker combines search criteria using AND, meaning that all keywords entered must match for an article to be found.

Keyword search examples:


Searches for...


The word therapy.

pain management

The words pain and management.

"nerve stimulation"

The phrase nerve stimulation.


Any word that starts with splint.

"wrist splint*"

Any phrase that starts with wrist splint.

arm NEAR leg

The words arm and leg close to one another.

therapy OR pain

The word therapy or the word pain.

splint* NOT wrist

Any word that starts with splint and excludes those with the word wrist.

pain AND (arm OR leg)

The word pain and either the word arm or the word leg.

Selecting Records

To view information (Detailed Search Results) for more than one article, select all the articles that you wish to obtain by clicking in the box 
() to the left of each article. Once you have made your selection, click on the button 'View Selected Articles'. A list of the articles that you selected will be shown. To view more information about these articles, click on the button 'View Detailed Search Results'.

If you have selected articles that you didn't mean to, you can 'de-select' (remove) the articles from the list by clicking in the box () to the left of each article.

To view more information (Detailed Search Results) for only one article at a time, click on the title of the article.

Detailed Search Results

The Detailed Search Results page opens in a new window, where you can view information about the article/s such as author, title, journal title, method, details of the criteria items on the OTseeker scale (for randomised controlled trials prior to July 2013), and (if the publisher has granted permission) the abstract.

To get back to the Search Result page from the Detailed Search Results page, you will need to close the window or click on the 'Return to Search Page' link in the top right-hand corner of the page. This will close the window and return you to the search page.

Refining a Search

To modify or refine your search, click on the 'Refine Search' link on the Search page and it will take you to the search fields where you can make changes to your search criteria.

Printing And/Or Emailing Search Results

From either the Search Results page or the Detailed Search Results page you can email or print your search results.

Number Of Articles Displayed

On the Search page you have the option to select the number of records that you want displayed on the search results page (10 or 20 results). By default the search will display 20 articles on each search page if you do not choose another option from the drop-down box.

What Happens If The Abstract Is Missing?

An abstract is not displayed for all articles because we need to have permission from the publisher of the journal before we display the abstract (read more about this on the Questions page). However, if a search term is typed in the Keywords text box, OTseeker will still search all abstracts even if the abstract is not displayed. The exception to this is if there is no abstract for the article in the OTseeker database. This is the case for a small number of articles where due to the style of the journal, the abstract is not included in the record for the article.