Identifying systematic reviews

Systematic reviews aim to answer a clearly defined research or clinical question through rigorous identification, appraisal and synthesis of research evidence. They represent an evidence-based approach to informing practice in a range of disciplines. Systematic reviews are well-established in the fields of medicine and healthcare, but are also used in other areas including the social sciences.

The systematic review process usually starts with defining a research question and establishing criteria for the inclusion or exclusion of studies. A thorough literature search is undertaken to identify all the relevant studies. Studies are then appraised and where possible, and if appropriate, a synthesis of evidence may be performed. Systematic reviews aim to be a comprehensive summary of current evidence related to a particular research question. The School of Health Sciences have a short overview of the five major 'Steps in conducting a systematic review'.

Systematic review search, step by step: 

  1. Identifying systematic reviews
  2. Preparing to search
  3. Searching databases
  4. Managing the process

Training & resources

Help & support


Where can I find published systematic reviews?

You can search for published systematic reviews in medicine and health sciences in bibliographic databases such as PubMed. You can also search the websites of major producers of systematic reviews, such as the organisations below. In addition, the PROSPERO protocols database is a prospective register of systematic reviews which are being undertaken but are not yet published, and the Epistemonikos database aims to contain all systematic reviews relevant for health decision-making.

For disciplines beyond medicine and health sciences, additional resources are available.

Cochrane Library

A collection of databases containing different types of evidence in healthcare, including:

The  Cochrane Schizophrenia and Cochrane Skin groups are based at the University of Nottingham.


Campbell Collaboration

The  Campbell Library contains systematic reviews of the effectiveness of social interventions, particulary in the fields of:

  • education
  • crime
  • social welfare

   Campbell collaboration logo

Joanna Briggs Institute

The JBI Library includes evidence based outputs across the healthcare field from an international network of collaborating centres. These include:

  • Systematic reviews
  • Evidence summaries
  • Best practice information sheets

The  Centre of Evidence-Based Health Care (CEBHC) at the University of Nottingham is a collaborating centre.  




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