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Systematic Reviews

What is a Systematic Review?

A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question. 

The key characteristics of a systematic review are:

  • a clearly defined question with inclusion and exclusion criteria;
  • a rigorous and systematic search of the literature;
  • two phases of screening (blinded, at least two independent screeners);
  • data extraction and management;
  • analysis and interpretation of results;
  • risk of bias assessment of included studies;
  • and report for publication.


Planning for your Systematic Review

  • Time: 9-12 months
  • Team: At least 3 people recommended
  • Focus of research: Are there enough research articles written on the topic to do a systematic review? Is your question too broad or narrow? Within what time frame are you searching?
  • Check to see if a systematic review has already been done on the topic. (Our medical librarians can help with this!

If you find that you do not have time time or team for a systematic review, you can look into other review types such as a scoping review or a narrative review.