A guide to resources to help with conducting systematic reviews & services available from eTreadwell librarians
To ensure that your systematic review is of high quality, we highly recommend that you review these resources and use them to guide your project.
- PRISMA Statement, Checklist and Flow Diagram
The PRISMA Statement is a set of standards that address what should be reported in a systematic review. The checklist and flow diagram are especially helpful in planning systematic reviews. In addition, there are PRISMA guidelines to assist researchers in structuring systematic review protocols and abstracts. Many journals expect authors to use the PRISMA statement, and some require you to submit a PRISMA checklist and flowchart with your manuscript.
- Insitute of Medicine (IOM): Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews
The HMD (Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies, formerly known as the IOM) standards were created with systematic reviews of medical and surgical interventions in mind. They provide guidance throughout the entire systematic review process, from assembling your systematic review team to preparing your final report.
- AMSTAR Checklist
A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) is an instrument developed by a Canadian team to assess the methodological quality of systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials. It is an 11 item checklist that is quick and easy to use.
- ROBIS Tool
The ROBIS tool is used to assess risk of bias in systematic reviews. It can be used by researchers seeking to conduct a review of systematic reviews, or by those who want to avoid bias in their own systematic reviews.
- Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR)
The "methodological standards to which all Cochrane Protocols, Reviews, and Updates are expected to adhere. They are divided into sections for the conduct of, and reporting the reviews of interventions. These expectations are intended for both internal and external audiences. They provide authors and users of the Cochrane Library with clear and transparent expectations of review conduct and reporting."
These articles either:
- Give concise overviews of the systematic review process.
- Address certain aspects of the systematic review process that can present methodological challenges.
- Umscheid CA. A Primer on Performing Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses. Clin Infect Dis. 2013;57(5):725-734.
"Targeted to beginners interested in conducting their own systematic reviews and users of systematic reviews looking for a brief introduction, this primer (1) highlights the differences between review types; (2) outlines the major steps in performing a systematic review; and (3) offers a set of resources to help authors perform and report valid and actionable systematic reviews."
- Chung KC, Burns PB, Kim HM. A practical guide to meta-analysis. J Hand Surg Am. 2006;31(10):1671-1678.
Defines what a meta-analysis is (versus a systematic review) and provides a basic how-to of the process.
- Smith V, Devane D, Begley CM, Clarke M. Methodology in conducting a systematic review of systematic reviews of healthcare interventions. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2011;11(1):15.
Methodological challenges in performing systematic reviews and possible solutions are described within the context of (i) sources, (ii) study selection, (iii) quality assessment (i.e. the extent of searching undertaken for the reviews, description of study selection and inclusion criteria, comparability of included studies, assessment of publication bias and assessment of heterogeneity), (iv) presentation of results, and (v) implications for practice and research.
- Harris JD, Quatman CE, Manring MM, Siston RA, Flanigan DC. How to write a systematic review. Am J Sports Med. 2014;42(11):2761-2768..
A practical article that features a fantastic list of "pearls and pitfalls" and helpful list of data extraction elements you may want to consider.
- Riesenberg LA, Justice EM. Conducting a successful systematic review of the literature, part 1. Nursing (Lond). 2014;44(4):13-17.
Covers the steps of initiating a systematic review through performing the literature search, from a nursing perspective.
- Riesenberg LA, Justice EM. Conducting a successful systematic review of the literature, part 2. Nursing (Lond). 2014;44(6):23-26..
Picking up where the first article left off, guides researchers through the systematic review process from the literature search to preparing the final manuscript from a nursing perspective.
- Meline T. Selecting studies for systematic review: Inclusion and exclusion criteria. Contemp Issues Commun Sci. 2006;33:21-27.
Addresses how to develop inclusion and exclusion criteria for your review.
- Tricco A, Antony J, Straus S, et al. Knowledge synthesis methods for integrating qualitative and quantitative data: a scoping review.. Journal Of Clinical Epidemiology. May 1, 2016;73:29-35.
Some researchers seek to integrate findings from both qualitative and quantitative studies to inform decision making. This article seeks to "describe and compare, through a scoping review, emerging knowledge synthesis methods for integrating qualitative and quantitative evidence in health care, in terms of expertise required, similarities, differences, strengths, limitations, and steps involved in using the methods."
Want in depth guidance? These are detailed handbooks on the systematic review process.
- Cochrane Handbook For Systematic Reviews of Interventions
The Cochrane Collaboration has produced a detailed handbook for researchers working on Cochrane reviews. Much of the guidance in the handbook is applicable to those working on systematic reviews.
Chapters: Defining the review question; Searching for studies; Selecting studies and collecting data; Assessing risk of bias; Analysing data; Addressing reporting biases; presenting results; Interpreting results; Including non-randomized studies; Adverse effects; Incorporating economics evidence; Special topics in statistics; Patient-reported outcomes; Reviews of individual patient data; Prospective meta-analysis; qualitative data; Reviews in public health/health promotion; Reviews of reviews.
- Systematic Reviews: CRD's Guidance for Undertaking Reviews in Healthcare
From the University of York's Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.
Chapters: Core principles and methods for conducting a systematic review of health interventions; Systematic reviews of clinical tests; Systematic reviews of public health interventions; Systematic reviews of adverse effects; Systematic reviews of economic evaluations; Incorporating qualitative evidence in or alongside effectiveness reviews.
Appendices: Other review approaches; Example search strategy to identify studies from electronic databases; Documenting the search process; Searching for adverse effects.
- Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews
This handbook from the AHRQ "presents issues key to the development of Comparative Effectiveness Reviews" of interventions.
Chapters: Developing and selecting topic nominations for systematic reviews; Finding Evidence for Comparing Medical Interventions; Finding grey literature evidence and assessing for outcome and analysis reporting biases when comparing medical interventions; Avoiding bias in selecting studies; Selecting observational studies for comparing medical interventions; Assessing the risk of bias of individual studies in systematic reviews of health care interventions; Assessing the applicability of studies when comparing medical interventions; Assessing harms when comparing medical interventions; Conducting quantitative synthesis when comparing medical interventions; Grading the strength of a body of evidence; Integrating bodies of evidence: existing systematic reviews and primary studies.
- Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewers Manual
This manual "describes in detail the process of planning, undertaking and writing up a systematic review of qualitative, quantitative, economic, text and opinion based evidence."
Chapters: Evidence based practice, protocol development, systematic review and synthesis of the following: qualitative data, quantitative data, economic evidence, text and opinion based evidence. Also includes a chapter on searching and several critical appraisal tools.