Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Systematic Review Guide

Overview of the Systematic Review process with links to resources

Systematic Review Introduction

A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.  It  uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made. The key characteristics of a systematic review are:

  • A clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
  • An explicit, reproducible methodology;
  • A systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;
  • An assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and
  • A systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.

(Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, 2011)

Not all reviews are Systematic reviews : other review types include:

• Critical interpretive synthesis
• Evidence synthesis
• Literature review
• Mapping review
• Meta-analysis
• Meta-ethnography
• Narrative review
• Overview of reviews 
• Qualitative evidence synthesis
• Rapid review
• Realist review
• Review of reviews
• Scoping review
• Umbrella review

Data taken from: Timeline for a Cochrane review

Michael Doheny 

Assistant Librarian: Academic Collaboration and Science

Phone: +353(0)90483030

Emailmdoheny@ait.ie

Athlone Institute of Technology, Dublin Road, Athlone, Co Westmeath, N37 HD68, Ireland