A systematic review, with or without meta-analysis, "seeks to collate evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question. They aim to minimize bias by using explicit, systematic methods."1 To understand the difference between a systematic review and a literature review, please see our Conducting a Literature Review LibGuide.
The library is able to help with a systematic review in the following ways
- Librarians are happy to meet with you and/or your team to discuss the search string and to ensure that it is in the correct format before someone on your team runs the search. Librarians provide instruction on how to use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) to find terms, the proper use of Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), and how to use the PubMed Advanced Search function. In addition, the Systematic Review Accelerator, available at https://sr-accelerator.com/#/polyglot, can be used to translate a search string for use in different databases.
Reference Management Software
- Which reference management software will you use to collect and organize your references for this project? UCF provides EndNote, and the library provides one-on-one training sessions on how to use EndNote for your systematic review. To install EndNote visit the EndNote Guide.
- After selecting the articles for inclusion in the systematic review, you will need to read the full text of the article. If you find an article that UCF Libraries does not have access to, you can place an InterLibrary Loan request for the article. In most cases interlibrary loan requests take one to two business days.
Finding a Journal to Publish Your Work
- Librarians are here to help you find the right journal to publish your systematic review. Visit the Getting Published Guide for more information on getting published.
Things to Consider Before Embarking on a Systematic Review
It Takes a Team
- In order to reduce bias it is recommended to have at least three members on your team. Two people to review the titles and abstracts and a third person as a "tie-breaker". You may also need a statistician on your team if you are conducting a meta-analysis, contact COM's statisticians at https://med.ucf.edu/research/research-resources/biostatistician-services/
- Librarians are a great resource when conducting a systematic review, but they are not content experts (unless your topic is related to libraries), it is best to have team members who are content experts in the field to conduct title, abstract, and full text reviews of literature to be included in your systematic review.
- Once you have your team assembled you need to establish authorship, roles and responsibilities. Authors should conform to the ICMJE standards for authorship based on the following 4 criteria:
- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
- Final approval of the version to be published; AND
- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
- In addition to being accountable for the parts of the work he or she has done, an author should be able to identify which co-authors are responsible for specific other parts of the work. In addition, authors should have confidence in the integrity of the contributions of their co-authors.
- Have you selected a protocol that you will follow for your systematic review? For example PRISMA provides a 27 step checklist with explanations on how to conduct the systematic review. BEME reviews are conducted to provide evidence for education.
- Check the journal you are considering submitting to for protocol requirements.
Systematic Review Software
- Will you be using a systematic review software? The library provides access to JBI SUMMARI, contact the library for more information. Excel and Qualtrics (a survey software) are also provided by UCF and can be used for data extraction.
- UCF Libraries provides access to many subject specific databases, including those most commonly used in a systematic review: PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane. Ask a librarian for more information about databases.
- Due to budgetary constraints UCF Libraries does not have EMBASE. EMBASE cost $1,250 for 7 days, single user access. Your research team would have to cover the cost or you would need to physically go to a library that has EMBASE.
- PubMed and Web of Science both search MEDLINE so you will have duplication, which can be easily removed in a reference management software.
Quality Assessment Tools and Risk of Bias Tools
Articles selected for inclusion in the systematic review will need to be assessed for quality and risk of bias.
- Librarians, statisticians, proof readers, and others who have helped throughout your systematic review should be included in your acknowledgement section, and they should be informed before you include them in the acknowledgements.
1. Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.2 (updated February 2021). Cochrane, 2021. Available from www.training.cochrane.org/handbook.