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Systematic Reviews LibGuide

In this guide you will find information about how to conduct a systematic review. There are links to resources and other sources of information to support you throughout the whole process of a systematic review.

What is a systematic review

"A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesise all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question. Researchers contucting systematic reviews use explicit methods aimed at minimising bias, in order to produce more reliable findings that can be used to inform decision making." (Cochrane) Welcome to the Medical Library's systematic reviews LibGuide.

What are the types of systematic review?

There are many types of systematic review, they each have a slightly different purpose and methodology.

  • Rapid review: narrow, quick search and assessment of very specific question
  • Scoping review : assessment of potential size/scope of available literature
  • Integrative review: includes qualitative/quantitative/ theory
  • Umbrella review: review of systematic reviews

For details of other review types see

Grant M, Booth A. A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies (link opens in new window). Health Information & Libraries Journal. 2009;26(2):91-108.

Systematic review timeline

There are many stages to conducting a systematic review. The different stages can be found on the timeline below.

Spending time at the beginning of your review ensuring that you are asking the right question and phrasing it correctly will save a lot of time later on when developing the search and during screening.

It is good practice to document each stage of the review, search strategies, inclusion and exclusion criteria when screening, method used to critically appraise papers and how data was extracted and analysed. This documentation will be helpful when reaching the final stage which is writing up and submitting the systematic review for publication or assessment.

Systematic review timeline: develop a research question, develop the protocol, develop and carry out a full search, title/abstract screening, full text retrieval, full text screening, critical appraisal, data extraction, synthesis, writing up and submission for publication

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