You are here

Advice for Systematic Reviews

Systematic reviews are major pieces of research involving a range of steps, and a lot of work:

  • Clearly define your question(s)
  • Check whether a review on your topic has already been done, or is currently being done
  • Write a protocol - outline methods, develop criteria for including studies
  • Search for studies - design, test & run search
  • Select studies - screen titles/abstracts; obtain papers
  • Extract data from the studies
  • Assess the quality of the studies - apply criteria, assess risk of bias
  • Combine data - synthesis or meta-analysis
  • Report your results and findings
  • Undertake dissemination


A systematic review protocol describes the rationale, hypothesis, and planned methods of the review. It should be prepared before a review is started and used as a guide to carry out the review (PRISMA statement).

  • Undertake a basic literature search of your area early on. Check whether a systematic review has already been done and identify related systematic reviews.
  • Prepare your protocol in close collaboration with your supervisor.
  • Seek guidance from the literature and other experts and networks.

Meet with a Research Services Adviser

We can help with your search search strategy, and where to search. To make the most of your meeting, bring:

  • Your study question defined
  • Types of studies to be identified
  • Examples of relevant literature
  • A Medline search strategy if you've done one
  • Also, look at the Doing a systematic review section of the Philson Library's Information Skills Guide

Other Resources

Books in the Library

Contact Us