Search tips

You can find studies by browsing or searching.

In browsing, each record has been allocated to one ‘broad’ study domain/disease/condition categories by the ISRCTN editorial team. A study may deal with two or more study domains. If you do not find a study by simple browsing, the recommendation is to use the search functionality.

General points

  • Both basic and advanced search options rely on the actual presence of terms. There are no synonym systems underpinning the search on ISRCTN. Eg using the term “cancer” will not retrieve records where the term “neoplasm” is used. But the search does include some stemming. So searching for "educate" returns results containing "Educating" and "Educated.
  • For each record, the search result list will show:
    • Public title
    • Overall trial status
    • Recruitment status
    • Date study was added to registry
    • Snippet of texts where the terms or expressions are found. The terms or expressions are highlighted in yellow.
  • Details about fields can be found in the Definitions page.
  • The default ranking of results is by latest date record published in ISRCTN registry descending.
  • You can change the order from date to relevance. Relevance is defined by how many times relevant terms appear, with terms in the fields that are called public title and scientific title weighted five times higher.
  • You can choose the number of records displayed on a results page (from 10 to 100).
  • You can print the results of a search or print an individual record but there is no download facility as yet.
  • You can refine your search further by clicking on the values on the left displayed under sections (also called facets). Those facets correspond to fields described in the Definitions page and by default they show the 5 most common values. You can click on “See all” to show the complete list or on “See less” to go back to the default list of 5. The available facets are:
    • Overall trial status
    • Condition category
    • Country of recruitment
    • Participant age range
  • To look for a phrase, use double quotes, eg: “healthy volunteers”, “eating disorders”.
  • The Boolean operator AND is implied and does not needs to be used in a simple query. For example if you type depression schizophrenia, you will get records that contain both depression and schizophrenia
  • The Boolean operator OR can be used. For example if you are looking for records that may refer to palliative or critical illness, you need to type palliative OR (“critical illness”)
  • For cases which would use the Boolean operator NOT, the format is ‘term1 –term2’

Basic search

  • The search box for a basic search is in the top right corner of every page on the website.
  • Examples:
  • A basic search query will have the following url format: /search?q=[CRITERIA]

Advanced search

  • The advanced search is an option available next to the basic search box.
  • You can combine several fields from this list:
    • Text search (equivalent to full text as in the basic search box)
    • Condition
    • Countries of recruitment
    • Date applied
    • Date assigned
    • Funder name
    • Funder type
    • Interventions
    • Last edited
    • Outcome measures
    • Overall trial end date
    • Overall trial start date
    • Participant age range
    • Participant exclusion criteria
    • Participant gender
    • Participant inclusion criteria
    • Phase
    • Public Title
    • Recruitment status
    • Sponsor Organisation
  • In the above list, if you do not find the field that you would hope to filter on, eg study design, you should try and include your search term in the text search box.
  • The criteria chosen are displayed at the top of the page.
  • You can remove a criteria simply by clicking on the white cross in a blue circle.
  • To go back and modify your initial search, click on Advanced Search again.
  • Inputting search terms in a succession of fields is equivalent to building up an AND clause. It is not possible to build an OR clause or a NOT clause using the current advanced search.
  • Examples:
  • An advanced search query will have the following url format: eg /search?q=[CRITERIA]Type=advanced-search