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Library Research Guides

Systematic Reviews

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

Systematic Review Process

Here is a more detailed description of the systematic review process.  Note the iterative nature of the process (arrows on the left).  Step 14 refers only to meta-analyses.

Systematic review process-detailed

Tsafnet, G., Glasziou, P., Choong, M.K., et al. Systematic review automation technologies. Systematic Reviews 2014; 3:74;


Bias: "a systematic error, or deviation from the truth, in results or inference" (Cochrane Handbook, ch. 8)


Types of bias include:

  • Publication, time lag, or multiple publication bias
  • Location bias
  • Citation bias
  • Language bias
  • Outcome reporting bias.

For more details on bias and how to prevent it, see: Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (2008,Chapter 8Chapter 10, table 10.1.a)

For guidance on assessing study types, see the assessment templates from the NIH's National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute forms.


PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) "is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses . . . to help authors improve the reporting of systematic reviews and meta-analyses."

PRISMA 27-item checklist

The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration.

Preferred Reporting Items for a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Diagnostic Test Accuracy Studies: The PRISMA-DTA Statement.

Create & Register Your Protocol


Creating a protocol is an important part of creating a systematic review.  PRISMA-P provides a method for doing this that will work with the PROSPERO system for registering protocols for systematic reviews & meta-analyses.

Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols.



PROSPERO (International Prospective Register of Ongoing Systematic Reviews):  registering your protocol may reduce duplication of effort & the publication bias of systematic reviews.

University of York, PROSPERO register