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Stony Brook University

How to Conduct a Systematic Review

This guide covers all of the information you need to know in order to prepare for and conduct a systematic review.

Steps of a Systematic Review

Steps of a systematic review

  1. Form a research team. One person can't do a systematic review. You will need two people at the absolute minimum, preferably more. At least one team of two individuals is required to do independent screening of abstracts and full text as well as data extraction; be prepared to calculate inter-rater reliability statistics.
  2. If you would like assistance from an SBU Health Sciences Librarian, fill out our request form.
  3. Do a bit of preliminary, unofficial searching to get a sense of how much is out there on your topic and what kinds of studies are available. you may need to narrow or broaden your topic.  Having a few pre-identified key studies can help with finding search terms and developing search strategies.
  4. Register protocol plan on PROSPERO, run by the National Institute for Health Research and the University of York.  This will help you lay out your process in detail and ensure that no other research teams are conducting a similar study.
  5. Create (reproducible) search strategy
    • What key search terms will be used? 
    • Will date filters be used?
    • What filters will be included?
    • Limits on Human subjects? Article types? Age? Language? Publication dates?
  6. Conduct literature search using multiple databases
  7. Select studies based on inclusion/exclusion criteria
  8. Appraise studies using quality checklist
  9.  De-duplicate results
  10. Perform Data Extraction
  11. Analyze results
    • Re-run search if many months have passed since the most recent search
  12. Interpret Findings
  13. Present Findings