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Systematic Reviews: Introduction

What is a Systematic Review?

What is a systematic review?

Systematic reviews are most simply defined as "studies of studies".  A systematic review is a research methodology that is used to answer a specifically defined question by using explicit methods for the exhaustive, comprehensive literature search and the critical appraisal of individual studies.  They are carefully crafted to minimize bias, to be reproducible, and to objectively critically appraise the included studies.  A well crafted systematic review provides a high level of evidence on the effectiveness of healthcare interventions.

What is a meta-analysis?

A meta-analysis is conducted by using statistical methods to summarize the results of a selected group of studies. Ideally these studies are selected using a systematic review methodology.

Pratt Library Support for Systematic Reviews

Pratt Library Support for Systematic Reviews

Pratt Librarians offer individualized appointments with Systematic Review teams to discuss project feasibility and provide guidance and advice on the process. We are unable to accept Systematic Review searches until further notice. We can schedule a one hour consultation with a librarian to provide guidance on how to perform a Systematic Review.

Please email and a librarian will contact you within two business days. 

Which type of review should I complete?

A systematic review is only one of the different evidence synthesis methodologies that are available and one of the first steps in planning review is to ensure you have selected the most appropriate option.

Learn more about the different type of reviews you could complete from these resources:

  • Temple University Libraries have an excellent guide on Systematic Reviews & Other Review Types that outlines their defining characteristics, how they are different from systematic reviews, and their limitations.

  • Gough D, Thomas J, Oliver S. Clarifying differences between review designs and methods. Syst Rev. 2012 Jun 9;1:28. doi: 10.1186/2046-4053-1-28. PubMed PMID: 22681772; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3533815.

  • Grant MJ, Booth A. A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health .Info Libr J. 2009 Jun;26(2):91-108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x. Review. PubMed PMID: 19490148.

What are systematic reviews? (3:23) Video from Cochrane