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Library Subject Guides

Systematic Reviews: Home

Library support

Here’s how Subject Librarians can help with your systematic review:

– Help formulate your PICO question

– Assist with developing search strategies across appropriate databases

– Provide advice on how to document the search for the methods section of your review

– EndNote support

– Research data management

What is a meta-analysis?

A meta-analysis utlises statistical methods (as differentiated from systematic reviews) to quantitatively evaluate pooled data from single studies. 

What is a systematic review?

Systematic reviews aim to find and evaluate all studies, published and unpublished, relevant to a research question. They use systematic methods to minimise bias and they also use transparent methods that allow for replication and verification

Key characteristics

• 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 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

• a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.

(Cochrane handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, 2019, p.xxiii)

Differences between Systematic Reviews and traditional Literature Reviews


Seeks to systematically search for,

appraise and synthesise research evidence,

often adhering to guidelines on the conduct

of a review

Generic term: published materials that provide

examination of recent or current literature.

Can cover wide range of subjects at various

levels of comprehensiveness.

May include research findings


Aims for exhaustive, comprehensive


May or may not include comprehensive 



Quality assessment may determine


May or may not include quality

assessment. Relies on author's judgment

Typically narrative, with tabular accompaniment
Typically narrative

What is known; recommendations for 

practice. What remains unknown; 

uncertainty around findings,

recommendations for future research

Analysis may be chronological, 

conceptual, thematic, etc


Subject Librarian

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Margaret Paterson

NOTE: Appointments are currently only available via Zoom. Email me with any questions relating to Psychology, Speech and Language Pathology, or Health Sciences.

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Central Library
tel:3693921 (internal 93921)
Subjects: Health, Science

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