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Systematic and Systematic-like Reviews

Systematic searching

Systematic searching involves a number of steps, and we devote a page to each of these, as follows:

Searching is a critical part of conducting the systematic review as it provides the evidence base for your research. If you are doing a full systematic review, your search strategy needs to be:

  • Comprehensive and unbiased. You need to search across a number of databases and grey literature sources, and consider hand-searching bibliographies and key journals.
  • Clear and reproducible. You need to document the search terms you are using, how you combine them, and where and when you have searched, so that others can evaluate and update your review.

Yale University Library has some useful videos about systematically searching the literature: Systematic Searches.

Checking for an existing systematic review

Before you start 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 might find that your subject has been covered, but needs updating. Here are some places to check:

   Healthcare Research

  • Cochrane Library - includes Cochrane reviews and protocols
  • JBI EBP Database - has limiters for Publication Type > Systematic Reviews and Systematic Review Protocols
  • CINAHL Plus with Full Text (nursing and allied health) - has a limiter to Publication Type > Systematic Review
  • OTseeker (occupational therapy) - has a limiter for Method > Systematic Review 
  • PEDro (physiotherapy) - has a limiter for Method > systematic review 
  • speechBITE (speech pathology) - has a limiter for Research Design > Systematic Review
  • PDQ Evidence (health systems and population health)
  • MEDLINE and PubMed - MEDLINE has various limiters around systematic reviews; PubMed has a limiter for Article Type > Systematic Review
  • Trip - a clinical search engine from the UK which includes many systematic reviews.

   Other disciplines

  • VetSRev - free online database of systematic reviews in veterinary medicine and science (University of Nottingham)
  • Campbell Collaboration - includes a database of systematic reviews related to education, criminal justice and social welfare
  • EPPI Centre systematic reviews - on subjects such as education, health promotion, public health, social welfare, and international development.
  • PsycINFO (psychology) has limiter for Methodology > Systematic Review (as an additional limiter after a search has been run).

Charles Sturt University acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which its campuses are located, paying respect to Elders, both past and present, and extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples.Acknowledgement of Country

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