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Nutritional Sciences

Conducting Reviews (incl. Systematic)

Systematic Review Basics

The purpose of a systematic review is to sum up the best available research on a specific question. This is done by synthesizing the results of several studies. A systematic review uses transparent procedures to find, evaluate and synthesize the results of relevant research. Procedures are explicitly defined in advance, in order to ensure that the exercise is transparent and can be replicated. This practice is also designed to minimize bias. Studies included in a review are screened for quality, so that the findings of a large number of studies can be combined. Peer review is a key part of the process; qualified independent researchers control the author's methods and results. 

A systematic review must have: 

  • Clear inclusion/ exclusion criteria
  • An explicit search strategy
  • Systematic coding and analysis of included studies
  • Meta-analysis (where possible)

(SOURCE: Campbell Collaboration)

Use the resources on this page to learn more about systematic reviews and how to conduct one. If you need additional help, contact your librarian. 

Just how long will it actually take to do that systematic review, anyway? PredicTER can provide guidance on how much time you and your team will need to devote to your review, given your desired timeframe.

handy tool for determining the most appropriate type of review for your situation

"This study aims to characterise health related reviews by type and to provide recommendations on appropriate methods of information retrieval based on the available guidance." (Sept. 2019)

There are many, many types of reviews. Read this classic article before you dive in!

good checklist of criteria for literature review, structured literature review, systematic review, meta-analysis

"Prospective registration of systematic reviews promotes transparency, helps reduce potential for bias and serves to avoid unintended duplication of reviews. Registration offers advantages to many stakeholders in return for modest additional effort from the researchers registering their reviews."


Inclusion here does not equal endorsement.

In addition to the resources shown below, searching combinations of these Medical Subject Headings [MeSH Terms] in PubMed may lead you to useful articles:
bias[MeshTerms]; epidemiologic studies[Mesh Terms]; evidence based medicine[Mesh Terms]; meta-analysis as topic[MeSH Terms]; observer variation[Mesh Terms] research design[Mesh Terms]; review literature as topic[Mesh Terms]; selection bias[Mesh Terms]

See also: PubMed Clinical Queries, Systematic Reviews


Read this classic article before you dive in!

What are Systematic Reviews by Cochrane
Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses by Rahul Patwari

These are examples of the range of systematic review services for which you might contact a librarian:

  • Creating search strategies
  • Reviewing search strategies
  • Conducting searches
  • Authoring methods sections

Take a look at CRediT, the Contributor Roles Taxonomy, which lists 14 "roles typically played by contributors to scientific scholarly output."

Related library guides

See this library guide for learning more about systematic reviews and how to conduct one.

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