Skip to Main Content
University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

Systematic Reviews & Evidence Synthesis Methods


Steps in the Process

Before you begin your review, think through and prepare for the project ahead. While some elements of a systematic review may occur concurrently, it is helpful to think through them as steps in the process of conducting a review. The following pages will provide more information on these steps:

  1. Formulate research question
  2. Define eligibility criteria
  3. Develop & implement search strategy
  4. Screen results & extract the data
  5. Critically appraise selected studies
  6. Synthesize results
  7. Report findings

How you complete and report each step will depend on the set of guidelines you choose to follow.


Guidelines Subject Areas


Medicine, Allied Health


Multidisciplinary, Environmental, Biological

Campbell Collaboration

Social Sciences, Business, Education, Criminal Justice


Multidisciplinary, Medicine, Social Sciences, Environmental

Institute of Medicine

Medicine, Health Care, Allied Health

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination

Medicine, Health Care, Allied Health

Collaboration for Environmental Evidence Environmental
Joanna Briggs Institute

Medicine, Health Care, Allied Health

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Medicine, Health Care, Allied Health
COSMIN Psychometric Instruments

Which guidelines should you follow?

The above are examples of standards that have been developed to guide a team of authors through the steps of a systematic review. The standards are built to ensure consistency of methodology, reporting, and reproducibility across reviews. It isn't always clear which standards to follow. Our guidance is to:

  • Consult with your librarian
  • Consider your discipline
  • Find model published-reviews and seek the guidelines followed within
  • Consider where your team plans to register a protocol
  • Consider where your team wants to publish a finalized review

Your investigative work should help you identify accepted standards for your field, and then if specific standards are required for where you plan to register your protocol and for where you hope to publish your review.

Learn More

Methods Guides & Handbooks


Journal Articles About Methods

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Generic License.