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Systematic Reviews and Evidence Syntheses: Home

How to do and 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 and learn where to go for more help.

If you are planning to carry out a systematic review, it is worth contacting your outreach librarian (medical sciences and NHS staff and students) or subject librarian (other disciplines) at the start. They can help advise you on all aspects of the review process and in some cases work with you on the review directly.

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.

Systematic reviews are 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), Joanna Briggs Institute (health), Campbell Collaboration (education, social policy) and Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (environment) 

Introductory information

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Contact our team of Outreach Librarians for help with anything in this guide.