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Systematic Reviews (in the Health Sciences)

Guidance for conducting health sciences systematic reviews.

What is a systematic review?

A systematic review is a research method that attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making.

Systematic reviews should be conducted by a team of researchers, at least one of whom has significant knowledge of research conducted in the subject, and cannot be done alone. Systematic reviews follow the established standards and methodologies for conducting and reporting systematic reviews.

Is a Systematic Review Right for You?

Not all questions are appropriate for a systematic review. Depending on your question, another type of review, such as a scoping review or literature review, may be more appropriate. 

A systematic review research question should be a well-formulated clearly defined clinical question, commonly in PICO format. 

Systematic Review vs. Literature Review