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Systematic Reviews

Information on how to conduct systematic reviews in the health sciences.

Where to search

Determining the databases or other resources to search is an important part of the systematic review process.  The University Library informationists are well informed about the databases we have access to and which will be the right fit for your project.

Documenting Your Search

It is mandatory to document the search process for each database, including all search terms & variations, the date when the searches were carried out, how many results you retrieved for each search, how many records were duplicates, & the final number of results that you used for your first pass.  PRISMA, which you can find on the Methods page of this research guide, provides standards for the type of information that you should include.​

Health Sciences Literaure Databases/Indexes

There are many databases that you can find listed under Quick Links on the Taubman Health Science Library home page or in individual research guides. 

PubMed @ UM



Medline (Ovid)


Web of Science


For more subject-specific databases, look in THL health sciences research guides

Hand Searching

For some searches, it may be important to hand search selected journal titles.  In hand searching, the research team looks at the table of contents of each issue of the journal(s) for a particular time period.  Journal titles are generally those with a high impact factor in the appropriate field, indexed in Journal Citation Reports.

Supplementary Resources

Grey literature is the unpublished, non-commercial, hard-to-find information that organizations such as professional associations, research institutes, think tanks, and government departments produce.  It can be invaluable to your review: it is part of the overall evidence base and is an alternative resource that may be used to overcome possible bias presented by published information.

The Grey Literature research guide provides a number of resources that are useful additions to systematic reviews, including, European Clinical Trials Register, NIH RePORTER, & OAIster, as well as links to sources for dissertations & conference proceedings.

Unpublished data can be hard to locate; this article can provide helpful suggestions:  Young T, Hopewell S. Methods for obtaining unpublished data. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Nov 9;(11). PMID: 22071866.