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Systematic Reviews

Interested in systematic reviews? A librarian can meet with you for one hour to offer guidance on the process, standards and best practices.

We can discuss the following during the hour: What you can expect to do before we meet:
  • Advice on:

    • Identifying appropriate review methodology and standards

    • Formulating a research question, defining inclusion/exclusion criteria, and registering a review protocol

    • Advise on developing systematic review searches, including the use of index terms in appropriate databases 

    • Assist with building an initial PubMed search

    • Explain or demo different databases and search interfaces 

    • Screening software and methodology for article screening, critical appraisal, and data extraction   

  • Recommendations about databases, grey literature resources, and citation management software 

  • Identification of relevant databases, potential journals, and suggested edits for existing search strategies 

  • Identify your team - typically 3-5 people, including the PI, context expert, 2 reviewers, and an operations manager.

  • Review your team's time commitment - typically 12-24 months

  • Provide information on review questions, purposes, background/significance. Provide citations and/or links for up to 3 relevant articles.

  • Review the types of reviews (i.e. literature, scoping) explained below.

Is a Systematic Review for Me?

Systematic review - A systematic review synthesizes data from articles into a summary review which has the potential to make conclusions more certain. Systematic reviews are considered the highest level of evidence in evidence-based medicine (EBM) evidence pyramidAn overview of the systematic review process includes:

  • Time Commitment: Typically 12–24 months from start to finish (may take longer)
  • Team Requirement: Typically 3-5 people at minimum. You will need at least a primary reviewer and a secondary reviewer. Other roles to consider include a subject expert, methodologist/statistician, operations manager, and medical librarian.
  • Topic: A significant question is being asked and answered. The topic is not the subject of a recent review and is not being worked on currently by others.

If this doesn't meet your needs, see "A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies".

Grant, Maria J., and Andrew Booth. “A Typology of Reviews: An Analysis of 14 Review Types and Associated Methodologies.” Health information and libraries journal 26.2 (2009): 91–108. Web.

For your reference, see these examples of a UCSF-authored systematic reviewscoping review, and protocol. In addition to this, see our Resource List below.