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Systematic Reviews: Getting Started

A guide to finding resources for a systematic review in the health and medical sciences

What are systematic reviews?

Cochrane UK. Evidently Cochrane blog

Systematic Approaches to Searching the Health Science Literature - video tutorials

A series of video tutorials by the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library at Yale University, on how to systematically search the health sciences literature. The videos will mainly focus on systematic searches required by a "systematic review". The goal of these tutorials is to ensure that your search is comprehensive, methodical, transparent and reproducible, so that your conclusions are as unbiased and closer to the the truth as possible.

Click on links to individual videos below or to view the list of (11) videos go to Cushing/Whitney Medical Library

Getting Started: Useful References

Bettany-Saltikov, J. (2010). Learning how to undertake a systematic review: Part 1. Nursing Standard, 24(50), 47-56.
(see p.49 for a comparison of systematic and literature reviews: Table 1. "Similarities in and differences between systematic and literature reviews"). 

Bettany-Saltikov, J. (2010). Learning how to undertake a systematic review: Part 2. Nursing Standard, 24(51), 47-56.

Riesenberg, L. A., & Justice, E. M. (2014). Conducting a successful systematic review of the literature, part 1. Nursing, 44(4), 13-17. doi: 10.1097/

Riesenberg, L. A., & Justice, E. M. (2014). Conducting a successful systematic review of the literature, part 2. Nursing, 44(6), 23-26. doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000446641.02995.6a

Useful Books


Mahtani, K. R. (2016). All health researchers should begin their training by preparing at least one systematic review. Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine, 109(7), 264–268.

Types of reviews - references

Adapted from Liblog: Newsletter of the Mayo Clinic Libraries, May 1, 2013

Kowalczyk, N., & Truluck, C. (2013). Literature reviews and systematic reviews: What is the difference? Radiologic Technology, 85(2), 219-222.

Grant, M.J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologiesHealth Information and Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108. doi:10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

Barnard, M. (2015). Research essentials: How to undertake a literature review. Nursing Children and Young People, 27(10), 12-12. doi:10.7748/ncyp.27.10.12.s15

Systematic Reviews Step by Step: series of articles from the American Journal of Nursing

This series on the systematic review from the Joanna Briggs Institute, an international collaborative supporting evidence-based practice in nursing, medicine, and allied health fields, shows nurses how to conduct a systematic review—one step at a time.

Aromataris, E., & Pearson, A. (2014). The systematic review: An overview. American Journal of Nursing, 114(3), 53-58. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000444496.24228.2c

Stern, C., Jordan, Z., & McArthur, A. (2014). Developing the review question and inclusion criteria. American Journal of Nursing, 114(4), 53-56. doi: 10.1097/01.naj.0000445689.67800.86

Aromataris, E., & Riitano, D. (2014). Systematic reviews: Constructing a search strategy and searching for evidence. American Journal of Nursing, 114(5), 49-56. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000446779.99522.f6

Porritt, K., Gomersall, J., & Lockwood, C. (2014). JBI's Systematic reviews: Study selection and critical appraisal. American Journal of Nursing, 114(6), 47-52. doi: 10.1097/01.naj.0000450430.97383.64

Munn, Z., Tufanaru, C., & Aromataris, E. (2014). JBI's Systematic reviews: Data extraction and synthesis.  American Journal of Nursing, 114(7), 49-54. doi: 10.1097/01.naj.0000451683.66447.89

Robertson-Malt, S. (2014). JBI's Systematic reviews: Presenting and interpreting findings. American Journal of Nursing, 114(8), 49-54. doi: 10.1097/01.naj.0000453044.01124.59

Edith Cowan University acknowledges and respects the Nyoongar people, who are the traditional custodians of the land upon which its campuses stand and its programs operate.
In particular ECU pays its respects to the Elders, past and present, of the Nyoongar people, and embrace their culture, wisdom and knowledge.