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Systematic Reviews

Introduction to Systematic Review

Cover page of the book an Introduction to Systematic reviews

What is a systematic review?

A "high-level overview of primary research on a focused question" utilizing high quality research evidence through:

  • Identifying
  • Selecting
  • Synthesizing
  • Appraisal

Source: Kysh, Lynn (2013): Difference between a systematic review and a literature review. [figshare]. Available at: 

Depending on your learning style, please explore the resources in various formats on the tabs above.

Know the difference! Systematic review vs. literature review

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It is common to confuse systematic and literature reviews as both are used to provide a summary of the existent literature or research on a specific topic.  Even with this common ground, both types vary significantly.  Please review the following chart (and its corresponding poster linked below) for the detailed explanation of each as well as the differences between each type of review.

Source: Kysh, L. (2013). What’s in a name? The difference between a systematic review and a literature review and why it matters. [Poster].Retrieved from


Types of literature reviews along with associated methodologies

Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91–108.
Gough, D., Thomas, J., & Oliver, S. (2012). Clarifying differences between review designs and methods. Systematic Reviews, 1(28).
Temple University. Review Types. - This guide provides useful descriptions of some of the types of reviews listed in the above article.
UMD Health Sciences and Human Services Library. Review Types. - Guide describing Literature Reviews, Scoping Reviews, and Rapid Reviews.
Whittemore, R., Chao, A., Jang, M., Minges, K. E., & Park, C. (2014). Methods for knowledge synthesis: An overview. Heart & Lung: The Journal of Acute and Critical Care, 43(5), 453–461.

Differences between a systematic review and other types of reviews

Armstrong, R., Hall, B. J., Doyle, J., & Waters, E. (2011). ‘Scoping the scope’ of a cochrane review. Journal of Public Health, 33(1), 147–150.

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

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Find Existing Systematic Reviews under the Searching the Literature tab on the left side menu.

Systematic Review

Scoping Review

Qualitative Systematic Review/Meta-Synthesis

Books on Systematic Reviews

Books on Meta-analysis

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Online Tutorials

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"How to" Readings


Environmental Sciences

Public Health

  • Hannes, K., & Claes, L. (2007). Learn to read and write systematic reviews: The Belgian Campbell Group. Research on Social Work Practice, 17(6), 748–753.
  • McLeroy, K. R., Northridge, M. E., Balcazar, H., Greenberg, M. R., & Landers, S. J. (2012). Reporting guidelines and the American Journal of Public Health’s adoption of preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. American Journal of Public Health, 102(5), 780–784.
  • Pollock, A., & Berge, E. (2018). How to do a systematic review. International Journal of Stroke, 13(2), 138–156.
  • Institute of Medicine. (2011). Finding what works in health care: Standards for systematic reviews.
  • Wanden-Berghe, C., & Sanz-Valero, J. (2012). Systematic reviews in nutrition: Standardized methodology. The British Journal of Nutrition, 107 Suppl 2, S3-7.

Social Sciences

Software Engineering & Computer Science
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Resources for your writing

The Center for Academic Success (CAS) has writing tutors who can assist you with organizing and planning your writing process and refining and improving your grammar and writing skills. Visit the CAS Writing Appointments webpage for more information and to make an appointment.