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Systematic Reviews: Introduction


This Libguide provides resources for researchers interested in performing a systematic review.  For information about finding existing systematic reviews, see the Libguide entitled Systematic Reviews: the Search. 

Definitions of "Systematic Review"

  • “A systematic review is a process of comprehensively locating and synthesizing the research on a particular question using organized, transparent, and replicable procedures.”

Hall, H. R., & Roussel, L. (2017). Evidence-based practice: An integrative approach to research, administration, and practice.  Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

  • A systematic review is "a rigorous synthesis of research findings on a particular research question, using systematic sampling and data collection procedures and a formal protocol."

Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2014). Essentials of nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health /Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

  • "A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.  It  uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made (Antman 1992, Oxman 1993). The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
    • a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
    • an explicit, reproducible methodology;
    • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;
    • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias;
    • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies."

Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from

The Role of the Institute of Medicine in Systematic Reviews

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Trey Lemley
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Subjects: Nursing