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Systematic Reviews

Explore Library services available to support researchers engaged in systematic reviews, evidence synthesis and meta-analysis.

A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question.

Cochrane Library

What is a Systematic Review?

A Systematic Review is much more than a literature search which is approached systematically. As Cochrane Library describe, "Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making."Find out more about the difference between the two on our Systematic Review Guide.

Although Systematic Reviews do not require any original research and are not subject to ethical approval, they are not an easy option. They are major pieces of research in their own right and follow a strict methodology involving an extensive range of steps, including: 

  1. formulatedefine your research question 
  2. justify the need for a Systematic Review 
  3. identify review guidelines in your subject area
  4. produce protocol and define the parameters 
  5. identify a small number of relevant papers to use as benchmark literature throughout the process
  6. identify appropriate bibliographic sources to search 
  7. design search strategy and undertake systematic literature search 
  8. manage search results 
  9. screen search results 
  10. perform quality assessment on included studies, including risk of bias 
  11. data extraction from included studies 
  12. assess heterogeneity of studies 
  13. perform data synthesis/ summary of evidence – meta-analysis/ narrative synthesis
  14. interpret the findings
  15. complete write up
  16. undertake dissemination  

Library staff are available to offer support to postgraduate students and research staff for steps 6-8 of this Systematic Reviews process. 

1. Cochrane Library (2021) About Cochrane Reviews. Available at: 

Library Support for Systematic Reviews

The Library Liaison Team are able to support Systematic Reviews being undertaken within postgraduate study and research teams across all faculties. 

Systematic Review consultancy

Book a one-to-one appointment with your Liaison Librarian to discuss your literature search and the level of support we could offer your review.

Incredibly useful and personalised advice, I was so grateful for all the time and help put in during my session and in preparation for it. I feel so much more confident using database searching and I appreciate the follow up information and resources.