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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

  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (and protocols)
  • JBI COnNECT+ - use the Publication Type limiter for Systematic Reviews to search this main JBI database.
  • JBI Evidence Synthesis (formerly JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports) - is a journal containing Implementation Reports, Systematic Reviews and Systematic Review Protocols in healthcare research following the JBI methodology.
  • OTseeker - includes abstracts of systematic reviews (SRs) and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) relevant to occupational therapy.
  • PEDro - RCTs, SRs and clinical practice guidelines in physiotherapy
  • PROSPERO - prospectively registered SRs and protocols in health and social care
  • neuroBITE - evidence (including SRs) on psychological problems and issues occurring as a consequence of acquired brain impairment (ABI)
  • speechBITE - Speech pathology database
  • PDQ Evidence - SRs on health systems and population health
  • CINAHL Plus with Full Text - limit to Publication Type: Systematic Review
  • MEDLINE and PubMed - limit to Publication Type: Systematic Review
  • PsychInfo - limit to Methodology: Systematic Review
  • Trip - a clinical search engine from the UK which includes many systematic reviews in this free version.
  • DARE - Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects

   Other disciplines


The databases you search depend on your research question and the subject field.

Search only in the most relevant and comprehensive databases in your field, and use individual databases, rather than packages of databases. It is best practice to use both keywords and thesaurus terms wherever they are are available.

Some suggestions are listed below, but do also consult the Library’s A-Z database list and browse by subject. Remember also that you may need to go outside your normal subject area. For example, if you're looking at the psychological aspects of paramedicine, use a psychology database as well as a health database.

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



   Environmental Studies


See our Database Help Library Resource Guide for help searching in databases, or contact your Faculty Librarian:

N.B. - EBSCOhost databases now have a facility for exporting up to 25,000 citations at once into EndNote - (if that's what you fancy doing).  Click here for instructions.

Other places to look


Citation indexes are multidisciplinary, and their citation searching functions make a good addition to a comprehensive database search. Consider using them to go "pearling", or in other words, trawling through references backwards and forwards (citations and cited-by) to snowball through the literature on your subject. This can often pick up some extra articles that may have been missed in your subject database searching. You can do this by doing a rough keyword search to get started, or plug in one of your "gold" articles and see what you find. Citation indexes include:


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, authoritative 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 it should be evaluated carefully.

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


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

  • Hand searching 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 key retrieved articles