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Systematic Reviews and Evidence Syntheses: Home

How to do a systematic review. How to find systematic reviews.

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers at the University of Oxford and staff in Oxford University Hospitals Trust seeking up to date information on how to carry out systematic reviews.

Use this guide to find out about this research technique

Further reading - Books

What is a Systematic Review?

A systematic review is a high-level overview of primary research on a particular research question that tries to identify, select, synthesize and appraise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question in order to answer it.¹

Systematic review is an approach used in health, education and social policy (as part of evidence based policy or practice). It's much more than a 'literature review' - it follows a strict methodology which means it's 'transparent, rigorous and replicable.'

Five steps to a Systematic Review

1. Formulate your question.
2. Search for studies.
3. Assess the quality of studies.
4. Summarise the evidence.
5. Interpret the findings.

This quick guide will cover steps 1-2 in detail and signpost resources that will help you with steps 3-5.

Major organisations in this area are the Cochrane Collaboration (health) and the Campbell Collaboration (education, social policy).