Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

LIBRARY 

Systematic Reviews: Overview

This guide is for the clinician undertaking a systematic review.

Overview

“I need to do a systematic review.”  “I want a systematic review.

The refrain is increasingly common, but it’s not always clear what someone means by a systematic review. Before our reference librarians will start on a “systematic review” literature search, they will work with you to make sure that what you really need–and want–is a systematic review.

So, what is a systematic review?

In basic terms, a systematic review is a protocol-driven, comprehensive literature review, usually designed to answer a specific clinical question. Read more...

Review Types

Did you know there are multiple types of reviews? Literature/ Narrative Reviews and Systematic Reviews are the most common (see chart below to see their differences), but there is a growing number of other review types in order to help investigators answer their questions. Below is a list of a few of them:

For more information, click here and view Table 1 in this article.

Epidemic of flawed systematic reviews & meta-analyses

Before you embark on a systematic review or meta-analysis, read The mass production of redundant, misleading, and conflicted systematic reviews and meta-analyses by Stanford professor John Ionnaidis in Milbank Quarterly (2016). In an interview with Retraction Watch he spoke about the epidemic of deeply flawed meta-analyses.

Consider WHY you're doing  the systematic review and if you have the right tools and team to do a high-qualitybias-free, industry-freereproducible study.

Other articles to consider before embarking on a systematic review:

Explanatory Charts & Diagrams