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Systematic Reviews: Training

Systematic Reviews: searching the literature

This page provides links to resources recommended in the training course "Systematic Reviews: searching the literature".  They are not exhaustive and when you carry out your systematic review it is important that you identify all the relevant specialist databases and sources in your discipline that you need to search.  

You will find useful lists of resources by looking on the Subject Guide for your area in the Database and Website sections.  If your investigation crosses disciplinary boundaries we would recommend that you check the guides for each discipline.

Recommended Databases - Medicine, Health and Psychology

Recommended Databases - Social Science and Education

EndNote for Systematic Reviews

To save you time we have collated the various ways you can download large amounts of references into Endnote from different databases. Please let us know if you would like any others included. 

Reference for non-health Systematic Reviews

Boland, A., Cherry, M. G. & Dickson, R. 2014. Doing a systematic review : a student's guide, Los Angeles ; London : SAGE, c2014.

Booth, A. & Brice, A. 2004. Evidence-based practice for information professionals : a handbook, London : Facet, 2004.

Collaboration for Environmental Evidence. 2013. Guidelines for Systematic Review and Evidence Synthesis in Environmental Management. Version 4.2. Environmental Evidence: 

Counsell C. 1997 Formulating Questions and Locating Primary Studies for Inclusion in Systematic Reviews. Ann Intern Med. Vol.127 pp.380–387. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-127-5-199709010-00008

Denyer, D. and Tranfield, D. (2009). 'Producing a Systematic Review'. In The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Research Methods. D.A. Buchanan and A. Bryman (eds). pg. 670-689. London: SAGE.

Gibbs, L., Armstrong, E. C., Raleigh, D. & Jones, J. 2003. Posing a Well-Built COPES Question and Classifying It Into One of Five Question Types [Online]. Brooks Cole. Available: http://www.evidence.brookscole.com/copse.html [Accessed 31 October 2016]

Grant, M. J. & Booth, A. 2009. A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26(2): 91-108. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x

Hemingway, P. & Brereton, N. 2009 What is a Systematic Review?  2nd ed.Hayward Medical Communications NPR09/1111 http://www.bandolier.org.uk/painres/download/whatis/Syst-review.pdf [accessed 01 November 2017]

Higgins, J. & Green, S. 2011 Cochrane Handbook for Systematics Reviews of Interventions: The Cochrane Collaboration, http://handbook.cochrane.org/ 

Kofod-Petersen, A. 2014 How to do a Structured Review in computer science v 0.2 

Lawrence, D.W. 2008 What is lost when searching only one literature database for articles relevant to injury prevention and safety promotion? Injury Prevention, 14(6): 401-404 DOI: 10.1136/ip.2008.019430

McGowan, J., Lefebvre, C., Sampson, M., Salzwedel, D. M., Cogo, E. & Foerster, V. 2016. PRESS Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies: 2015 Guideline Statement. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0895435616000585  [Accessed 19/10/2016]

Moher, D., Shameer, L., Clarke, M., Ghersi, D., Liberati, A., Petticrew, M., Shekell, P., Stewart, L.A. and PRISM-P Group 2015 Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 statement Systematic Reviews 4(1) [Accessed 02/11/2017]

Pawson, R. (2006). 'Evidence-Based Policy: A Realist Perspective'. London: SAGE publications

Prisma. 2009. PRISMA flow diagram [Online]. 

Siddaway, A [no date] What is a systematic literature review and how do I do one? [Accessed 31/10/17]

Tranfield, D., Denyer, D, & Smart, P. 2003 Towards a methodology for developing evidence-informed management knowledge by means of systematic review British Journal of Management (14(3) p 207 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-8551.00375/epdf

Databases useful for scoping searches

Frameworks for Developing your Review Question

A clearly defined, focused review begins with well framed questions.  These questions will guide many aspects of the review process such as eligibility, data collection as well as the basis for the search criteria.

  • PCS

a specific Problem, tackling some specific Constraint, method or approach to develop a System, application or algorithm

Boolean operators - refresher

Wild cards and Truncation

Systematic Reviews in the Environmental Sciences

The Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) Evidence Syntheses take the form of systematic reviews and (evidence) maps providing rigorous and transparent methodology to assess the impacts of human activity and effectiveness of policy and management interventions. 

Systematic Reviews in Social Sciences

Campbell Collaboration

Campbell Systematic Reviews follow structured guidelines and standards for summarising the international research evidence on the effects of interventions in crime and justice, education, international development and social welfare.

EPPI-Centre 

The Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre is a specialist centre for developing methods for:

  • for systematic reviewing and synthesis of research evidence; and
  • for the study of the use research. 

Critical appraisal tools

Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) Tools and Checklists

A set of eight critical appraisal tools designed to be used when reading research including one for use with Systematic Reviews.

Writing your protocol

Examples of non-health protocols

Althor, G. McKinnon, M. Cheng, SH. 2016 Does the social equitability of community and incentive based conservation interventions in non‑OECD countries, affect human well‑being? A systematic review protocol. Environmental Evidence Vol. 25 p.26 https://doi.org/10.1186/s13750-016-0078-3

Nabi, G, Liñán, F. Fayolle, A, Krueger, N & Walmsley, A 2017 The impact of entrepreneurship education in higher education: a systematic review and research agenda Academy of Management Learning & Education, Vol. 16, No. 2 pp. 277–299. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2015.0026

Nielsen, S.W. 2015 On political brands: a systematic review of the literature Journal of Political Marketing Vol. 16 No.2 pp.118-146 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15377857.2014.959694

Spolaôr, N., Benitti, F.B.V. 2017 Robotics applications grounded in learning theories on tertiary education: a systematic review vol.112 pp.97-107 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2017.05.001

Sources of Grey Literature

Hand and Citation Searching (Snowballing)

Hand searching is an important element in a Systematic Reviews. It can involve scanning manually the table of contents and entire issues of key journals and conference proceedings in the subject area you are researching. There are some tools that can assist you with this.

Citation searching, sometimes also referred to as Snowball method, involves reviewing the list of references in a paper and searching for other more recent papers that have cited it since it has been published.

The following resources may be of assistance:

References for Medical and Health Systematic Reviews

​Alberani, V., De Castro Pietrangeli, P. & Mazza, A. M. 1990. The use of grey literature in health sciences: a preliminary survey. Bulletin Of The Medical Library Association, 78(4): 358-363.

Boland, A., Cherry, M. G. & Dickson, R. 2014. Doing a systematic review : a student's guide, Los Angeles ; London : SAGE, c2014.

Booth, A. & Brice, A. 2004. Evidence-based practice for information professionals : a handbook, London : Facet, 2004.

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination & Akers, J. 2009 Systematic reviews : CRD's guidance for undertaking reviews in health care: York : CRD, University of York, 2009., http://www.york.ac.uk/crd/SysRev/!SSL!/WebHelp/SysRev3.htm

Frankis, J., Price, L., Hamilton, P. & Jackson, I. The SPICE framework [Online]. Glasgow: Glasgow Caledonian University. Available: http://www.gcu.ac.uk/library/pilot/searching/thespiceframework/ [Accessed 31st October 2016].

Gibbs, L., Armstrong, E. C., Raleigh, D. & Jones, J. 2003. Posing a Well-Built COPES Question and Classifying It Into One of Five Question Types [Online]. Brooks Cole. Available: http://www.evidence.brookscole.com/copse.html [Accessed 31 October 2016].

Gibbs, L. E. 2003. Evidence-based practice for the helping professions : a practical guide with integrated multimedia, Pacific Grove, Calif. : Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning, 2003.

Gilham, L., Hixon, B., Lamusse, F., Coley, A., Fabling, J., Brown, A., Ryan, S., Worrall, K., Evans, M., Jenkins, R., McGlashan, G. & Thames Valley and Wessex Healthcare Librarians. 2016. The Literature Search Process: Guidance for NHS Researchers [Online]. Thames Valley & Wessex NHS. Available: https://hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Lit_search_protocols_Feb2016.pdf [Accessed 31 October 2016].

Grant, M. J. & Booth, A. 2009. A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26(2): 91-108.

Higgins, J. & Green, S. 2011 Cochrane Handbook for Systematics Reviews of Interventions: The Cochrane Collaboration, http://handbook.cochrane.org/  

McGowan, J., Lefebvre, C., Sampson, M., Salzwedel, D. M., Cogo, E. & Foerster, V. 2016. PRESS Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies: 2015 Guideline Statement. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.

Pearson, A., Field, J. & Jordan, Z. 2006. Appendix 1: Systematic Review Protocol Example: Smoking  Cessation Interventions and Strategies for Hospitalised Patients. Evidence-Based Clinical Practice in Nursing and Health Care: Assimilating research, experience and expertise. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Wildridge, V. & Bell, L. 2002. How CLIP became ECLIPSE: a mnemonic to assist in searching for health policy/management information. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 19(2): 113. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1471-1842.2002.00378.x/full



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