Search tips

You can find studies by browsing or searching.

To aid browsing, each record has been allocated to one broad study domain/disease/condition category 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. For example, using the term 'cancer' will not retrieve records where the term 'neoplasm' is used. However, the search functionality does include some stemming. Searching for 'educate' will return results containing 'educating' and 'educated'.
  • For each record, the search result list will show:
    • Public title
    • Overall study status
    • Recruitment status
    • Date study was added to the 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 on the Definitions page.
  • The default ranking of results is in descending order of the registration date.
  • You can change the order from date to relevance. Relevance is defined by how many times search terms appear, with terms in the 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 download the search results as a CSV file.
  • 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 five most common values. You can click on 'See all' to show the complete list or 'See less' to go back to the default list of the top five. The available facets are:
    • Overall study status
    • Condition category
    • Country of recruitment
    • Participant age range
    • Recruitment status
    • Results status
    • Protocol status
  • 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")
  • You may group search elements using brackets to ensure the logic is correct. This is usually necessary when combining AND and OR logic.
  • 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
    • Interventions
    • Funder name
    • Funder type
    • Countries of recruitment
    • Date applied
    • Date assigned
    • Last edited
    • Results first made available
    • Outcome measures
    • Overall study end date
    • Overall study start date
    • Participant age range
    • Participant sex
    • Participant inclusion criteria
    • Participant exclusion criteria
    • Phase
    • Public Title
    • Has output of type
    • Recruitment status
    • Sponsor organisation
    • Sponsor country
    • Sponsor UK region
    • Acronym
    • Study status
    • FundRef ID
    • GRID ID
  • In the above list, if you do not find the field that you would hope to filter on, e.g. study design, you should include your search term in the text search box.
  • The criteria chosen are displayed at the top of the page.
  • You can remove a criterion 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. You can use the same operators as for the simple search in individual fields.
  • Examples:
  • An advanced search query will have the following URL format: eg /search?q=[CRITERIA]Type=advanced-search

Transparency tracker

The transparency tracker provides a visual display of the transparency achieved by a set of records, found by a search of the registry. From any search results page click on ‘View in tracker’ to see the search results displayed in the transparency tracker. Click on the bars of the bar charts or the slices of the pie charts to filter the search results.