What is a systematic review?

A systematic review is a research method in which a team formulates a research question, searches, selects, and appraises the literature in order for researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers to make evidence based decisions.

Unlike other types of reviews, this research method includes a reproducible and transparent methodology. For help differentiating between the various types of reviews (e.g., literature review, scoping review), consult A Typology of Reviews (Grant & Booth, 2009).

Systematic Review Service Request

How can the libraries help?

Librarians have skills to assist you throughout the process especially in helping you develop and report a comprehensive and reproducible search strategy.


1: Planning

  • Guidance on SR process and steps
  • Background searching for current and upcoming reviews
  • Help with development or refinement of review topic

2: Searching

  • Identification of databases for searches
  • Development and execution of searches
  • Documentation of search strategies
  • Management of search results
  • Guidance on methods for study review and data management

3: Reporting

  • Drafting of literature search description in methods section
  • Drafting of literature search appendix
  • Guidance for complying with reporting guidelines (e.g., PRISMA)
  • Review of manuscript drafts

Adapted from Role of the Librarian. (2017). Systematic Reviews at UNC Health Sciences Library. http://guides.lib.unc.edu/c.php?g=148913&p=979577