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How can we help with systematic reviews?

There are many PhD students and researchers within the University who are undertaking research in the form of a systematic review, particularly within medicine, health and psychology.

We wanted to highlight the stages of a systematic review where the Library Research Services Team can provide help and support.

We can advise on any of the stages in red and with reference management.
What is a systematic review?
A systematic review is a type of literature review that attempts to find all published and unpublished material on a specific research question. The studies found are then appraised against specific eligibility criteria. Data is extracted and synthesized from the eligible studies to produce a summary of evidence from the relevant research.

Scoping Search
  • To identify existing systematic reviews in the research area.
  • To check the scope of the research available and help inform the research question.
  • To help find appropriate databases, keywords and subject terms for the search strategy section of the protocol.
Full Search
  • Full search strategy including the use of keywords, subject terms, truncation, wildcards, adjacency searching and other search options - in a documented manner that could be replicated by other researchers.
  • Perform the search strategy on appropriate databases e.g. Medline, Embase, PsycINFO.
  • Translate and perform the search across different interfaces.
Full Text Retrieval
  • Obtaining the full text of the studies which fit the eligibility criteria including those not immediately available through University journal subscriptions.
Additional Searching
  • To identify and obtain eligible studies which were not indexed in the literature databases.
  • Could include:
    • Hand searching (browsing) of key journals.
    • References from related systematic reviews.
    • Grey literature - reports/publications from the government, drug companies, charities etc.
Update Search
  • Re-running saved searches or setting up search alerts to identify new research in the area.
References Management
  • Use of software such as EndNote or RefWorks to store store, manage and de-duplicate references.
  • Use of codes and fields within the software for use at the screening stage of the review.
  • Creation of bibliographies for publication.
If you would like help and advise on any of the above please email 


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