Finding Types of Research

What is a Systematic Review?

"A systematic review is a form of secondary research, guided by a detailed review protocol, that gathers primary studies and information from other sources on a clinical or policy question of interest and analyzes the data from these multiple studies to reach a conclusion. A systematic review involves the identification, selection, appraisal, and synthesis of the best available evidence for clinical decision making. A properly conducted systematic review uses transparent and reproducible strategies to reduce bias and instill rigor. It synthesizes information from both published and unpublished sources" (Holly, 2017).

In short, a systematic review is a structured study of studies in which only certain material that fits the predetermined inclusion criteria are analyzed. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are often done in tandem and reported in one study.

Find Systematic Reviews

You can narrow your search to systematic reviews only by adding a search term of systematic review to your search statement. Example: catheters AND infection AND "systematic review". Watch the video below for more information.

Watch the Systematic Reviews and Where to Find Them video

There are also filters in specific databases that allow you to limit your search results to systematic review articles only.

Library Databases with Systematic Reviews

CINAHL and Medline: Publication Type Filter

Systematic Review

To find systematic reviews in CINAHL or Medline, follow the steps below.

  1. Select one of the database links above to open the advanced search page.
  2. Enter your keyword(s) into the search boxes. 
  3. Move down to the Limit Your Results section. This is where you can add filters to your search to tell the database that you only want articles that fit specific criteria. 
  4. Select Systematic Review from the Publication Type menu, as shown in the image below.

PubMed: Systematic Review Filter

To find systematic reviews in PubMed, follow the steps below.

  1. Select the database link above.
  2. Enter your keyword(s) into the search box.
  3. Select Search.
  4. Select Systematic Review from the Article Type section on the left-hand side of the page, as shown in the image below.

Note! With any of these searches, you will need to limit to full text to get articles immediately available to you.

Example of a Systematic Review