Systematic Review

What is a systematic review?

A systematic review is a study of studies. It attempts to collect all existing evidence on a specific topic in order to answer a specific research question. Authors create criteria for deciding on which evidence is included or excluded before starting the systematic review. This helps reduce the risk of bias and makes its findings more reliable.

About the Service

Evidence synthesis reviews encompass systematic reviews, scoping reviews, meta-analyses, and evidence gap maps, and more. Unlike other types of reviews, these research methods include a reproducible and transparent methodology. For help differentiating between the various types of review, consult A Typology of Reviews (Grant & Booth, 2009).

Work with librarians to increase the quality of reviews and streamline the process. Librarians help you: 

  • determine if there are existing reviews on your topic,
  • develop a protocol to ensure transparency and rigor,
  • create search strategies to identify all relevant studies,
  • deliver search results formatted for citation managers and evidence synthesis review tools,
  • implement best practices for screening, risk of bias assessment, and data extraction and synthesis,
  • write the search methodology, and
  • determine best evidence synthesis type for your project.

How librarians can help?

As you start your evidence synthesis project, librarians can help at either the consultant or co-author level.


As a consultant, a librarian can step in at different points of your evidence synthesis review. Librarians can:

  • provide background information and resources on the evidence synthesis process,
  • recommend databases, protocol registration platforms, and citation management software, and
  • suggest edits for your search strategy.

This option is a limited time commitment.


Co-authoring is a more substantial commitment, and a librarian will typically devote more than a year to partner with you on your evidence synthesis review.

As a co-author, the librarian will be more hands-on and can:

  • comment on the protocol,
  • select databases and grey literature resources,
  • write the search strategy,
  • translate searches to syntax of all databases,
  • perform searches and export them to citation management software,
  • perform deduplication, or train your team on the process,
  • set up in article screening software, and
  • write a portion of the methods section specific to searching.
Scroll to Top