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Health Sciences Review Articles

Identifies the difference between a systematic review and a literature review. Connects to tools for research, writing, and publishing.

Construct an evidence table

Prior to extracting evidence, you should critically appraise the found articles. Determine for yourself how valid and accurate these materials are; only extract evidence from articles that meet your standards.

An evidence table is a common technique used to extract data to prepare systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and clinical guidelines. An evidence table for a literature review can be less rigorous and detailed than an evidence table used for these other types of publications.

In your table, each row represents one study. Each column describes one piece of information you will extract from each article. You will decide the column headings yourself and they will likely change for each literature review you conduct. Base the column headings on what information you need to extract. Usually, evidence tables for literature reviews will include 5-20 columns. See some sample evidence tables for various types of literature reviews:

An evidence table for a literature review where there is prospective research evidence in human subjects:

  Study design Rationale Patients enrolled Tests used Dependent variable Independent variable Are results significant? Key findings
Article A                
Article B                

An evidence table for a literature review where there is prospective research evidence conducted in laboratories:

  Methodology Quality of study Organisms studied Techniques Used Key Findings Results Significant?
Article A            
Article B            

An evidence table for a literature review where there is more qualitative evidence:

  Research question Theoretical approach Recruitment methods Analytical methods Conclusions
Article A          
Article B