The Biomedical Library’s Systematic Review Service is being reconfigured and improved. The service will be restored on December 1, 2023. Systematic Reviews currently scheduled will proceed as arranged without interruption.
A systematic review is fundamentally different from a traditional narrative review. For more information, see Types of Literature Reviews.
A systematic review is defined as: "A scientific investigation that focuses on a specific question and that uses explicit, planned scientific methods to identify, select, assess, and summarize the findings of similar but separate studies. It may or may not include a quantitative synthesis of the results from separate studies (meta-analysis) depending on the available data." IOM p 1.
According to the Cochrane Handbook, section 1.2.2, "the key characteristics of a systematic review are:
Green S, Higgins JPT, Alderson P, Clarke M, Mulrow CD, Oxman AD. Chapter 1: Introduction. In: 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 www.cochrane-handbook.org.
Are you sure your review is systematic? A systematic review requires…
You can also use this primer geared towards beginners for a better understanding of the differences between types of reviews and the overall steps of a systematic review:
The goal of a systematic review is to reduce bias and produce high quality evidence.
Rigorous systematic reviews are at the top of representations of research evidence (see below). The synthesis of multiple high-quality studies creates a single product out of all the best known evidence.