Skip to main content

Systematic and Systematic-like Reviews

Finding other systematic reviews

Before you start searching for studies to support your review, it's a good idea to make sure that a review doesn't already exist on your topic, or that a protocol hasn't already been registered. You may also find that your subject has been covered, but needs updating. Here are some places to check:

   Healthcare Research

   Other disciplines

Databases

The databases you search depend on your research question and the subject field. Some suggestions are listed below, but do also consult the Library’s database list and browse by subject. Remember, you only need to search the most relevant and comprehensive databases in your field.

How many databases do you need to search? Definitely search more than one, and 3-4 are considered necessary for an exhaustive review.

   Nursing and Allied Health

   Education

   Business

   Environmental Studies

   Multidisciplinary

NB - EBSCOhost databases now have a facility for exporting up to 25,000 citations at once into EndNote - if that's what you need to do.  Click here for instructions.

Other places to look

CITATION INDEXES

These indexes are multidisciplinary as well, and their citation searching functions make a good addition to a comprehensive search.

GREY LITERATURE

Grey literature is research that has not been published commercially, such as in academic journals. For that reason, it's not easy to find it using the usual databases and search engines. However, there is a lot of high quality, grey literature which, depending on your topic, could be relevant to your research question and also help to offset possible publication bias, 

Examples of grey literature include government reports, conference proceedings, theses, policy documents and clinical trials. Do be aware that much of it is not peer reviewed, so should be evaluated carefully.

The Library’s guide to Grey Literature covers offers more information, including how to find and evaluate grey literature, and some good sources in different subject areas.

HAND SEARCHING AND MORE

A full systematic review may require even more searching to make sure no stone is left unturned:

  • Hand searching, which involves reviewing the contents of the major journals and conference proceedings in your subject area page by page.
  • Contacting authors of key studies or known experts in the field
  • Checking through reference lists of retrieved articles