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Systematic Reviews: Home

How to search the literature

What is a systematic review?

A systematic review is a summary of the literature on a particular topic. 

It is a critical assessment and evaluation of all research studies that cover a particular subject field.

It utilises an organised method of locating, assembling, and evaluating a body of literature using a set of specific criteria.

This guide should help you with the part of the review which involves searching for the literature.

A systematic review should:

- Identify all relevant published and unpublished evidence.

- Select studies or reports for inclusion.

- Assess the quality of each study or report.

- Synthesise the findings from the individual studies or reports in an unbiased way.

- Interpret the findings and present a balanced and impartial summary of the findings with due consideration of any flaws in the evidence.

Hemingway, P (2009).

Here are a couple of very useful articles which will help you to understand how they work:

Hemingway, P (2009). What is a systematic review? Available from - http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/painres/download/whatis/syst-review.pdf [Accessed: 27/11/13]

Khan, K. (2003) ‘Five steps to conducting a systematic review', Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 96, pp. 118-121