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Library Subject Guides

Systematic Reviews: Databases

Databases by subject

Subject area Databases


Business Source Complete


Google Scholar


Education Source







ASCE Research Library

Google Scholar

Health Science

Key databases: Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials, Medline, EMBASE

Clinical trial registers: see Grey Literature for Health

Subject specific databases: PsycINFO, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus

Citation Indexes: Scopus, Google Scholar

Dissertations and Theses

Social Sciences



Political Science Complete



Google Scholar?

While it should not be relied on alone for systematic reviews, the Cochrane Handbook states Google Scholar can be used a replacement for the Web of Science or Scopus. There are, however, some limitations with Google Scholar: it retrieves more duplicates than Scopus and frequently the references will need some correcting.

Haddaway, N. R., Collins, A. M., Coughlin, D., & Kirk, S. (2015). The role of Google Scholar in evidence reviews and its applicability to grey literature searching. PloS One, 10(9), e0138237. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0138237

Gusenbauer, M., & Haddaway, N. R. (2020). Which academic search systems are suitable for systematic reviews or meta-analyses? Evaluating retrieval qualities of Google Scholar, PubMed, and 26 other resources. Research Synthesis Methods, 11(2), 181-217.


Further reading by discipline


Cochrane Handbook See Chapter 4: “Searching for and Selecting Studies”

CRD’s guidance for undertaking reviews in health care

JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis

Not all parts of the PICO question are equally useful and the Outcomes can often be left out of a search:

Frandsen, T. F., Nielsen, M. F. B., Lindhardt, C. L., & Eriksen, M. B. (2020). Using the full PICO model as a search tool for systematic reviews resulted in lower recall for some PICO elements. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 127, 69–75.

Economics and Business 

Geyer-Klingeberg, J., Hang, M., & Rathgeber, A. (2020). Meta-analysis in finance research: Opportunities, challenges, and contemporary applications. International Review of Financial Analysis, 71, Article 101524.

Havránek, T., Stanley, T. D., Doucouliagos, H., Bom, P., Geyer‐klingeberg, J., Iwasaki, I.,Reed, W. R., Rost, K. & van Aert, R. (2020). Reporting guidelines for meta-analysis in economics. &Journal of Economic Surveys, 34(3), 469–475.

Kraus, S., Breier, M., & Dasí-Rodríguez, S. (2020). The art of crafting a systematic literature review in entrepreneurship research. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 16(3), 1023–1042.


Kitchenham, B., Pearl Brereton, O., Budgen, D., Turner, M., Bailey, J., & Linkman, S. (2009). Systematic literature reviews in software engineering: A systematic literature review. Information and Software Technology, 51(1), 7–15.

Social Sciences

Dacombe, R. (2018). Systematic reviews in political science: What can the approach contribute to political research? Political Studies Review, 16(2), 148–157.

Zawacki-Richter, O., Kerres, M., Bedenlier, S., Bond, M., & Buntins, K. (2020). Systematic reviews in educational research: Methodology, perspectives and application. Springer.

Petticrew, M., & Roberts, H. (2008). Systematic reviews in the social sciences: A practical guide. John Wiley & Sons.

Papaioannou, D., Sutton, A., Carroll, C., Booth, A., & Wong, R. (2010). Literature searching for social science systematic reviews: consideration of a range of search techniques. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 27(2), 114–122.