Systematic Reviews

What is a systematic review?

Systematic reviews are a type of literature review that uses systematic methods to collect data, critically analyze the resulting data, and synthesize those findings qualitatively or quantitatively. Systematic reviews require a clearly defined research question, and rigorously assesses studies that directly relate to that question. They are designed to provide a complete, exhaustive summary of current evidence, published and unpublished, that is both comprehensive and replicable.

Beware of Quality

A 2016 study of Systematic Reviews conducted in biomedical research determined that many systematic reviews are poorly conducted and reported. "more than 8,000 SRs are being indexed in MEDLINE annually, corresponding to a 3-fold increase over the last decade. 

Page MJ, Shamseer L, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, Sampson M, Tricco AC, et al. (2016) Epidemiology and Reporting Characteristics of Systematic Reviews of Biomedical Research: A Cross-Sectional Study. PLoS Med 13(5): e1002028.

What other kinds of reviews are there?

You may wish to explore other types of reviews, depending on your topic, time constraints, and research team's capacity.  We can help you determine the most appropriate type of review during the initial research consult.


Types of Publication Reviews: Integrative Review, Scoping Review, Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, Rapid Review, Realist Synthesis, and Overview of Reviews

Image Source: Gross, P, Rosman, R. (2016). Expert Searching for High Quality Evidence in the Online Environment. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Course 340.802.81.  Adapted from: Mallidou, A. (2014). Mapping the landscape of knowledge synthesis. Nursing Management21(5).

Types of reviews

Sutton, A., Clowes, M., Preston, L., & Booth, A. (2019). Meeting the review family: exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 36(3), 202-222.