Research Guides

Systematic Reviews

Welcome to Richter Library's Resource Guide
for Systematic Reviews!

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This guide is a great tool for finding information and conducting systematic reviews. Each tab contains current and relevent resources for assisting you in collecting the best information for your project, interest, or research. 
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Getting Started
Any researcher can register a protocol. If a publication or agency does not require one, submitting one is optional, but writing one as part of the process is fundamental. It helps plan and specify how you will navigate the systematic review process and stay on course.
It's important to know if the SR you're doing has been done already to avoid duplication. You can search protocols of SRs on the following databases Apart from checking these protocol databases, search UM Library databases like PubMed, CINAHL, or PsycINFO.
UT Systematic Review Guide [University of Texas Library]
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Steps in a Systematic Review
Systematic reviews - Systematic Review - Library Guides at AUT University
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What is Grey Literature?

"Grey literature stands for manifold document types produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats that are protected by intellectual property rights, of sufficient quality to be collected and preserved by library holdings or institutional repositories, but not controlled by commercial publishers i.e., where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body."

-- 2nd International Conference for Grey Literature, 2010

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Types of Grey Literature
To studies the many areas in public health, it is imperative to investigate some of the following sources for timely and research driven information:
  • Reports from government agencies (e.g., WHO or UNAIDS), organizations, societies, etc.
  • Professional and Special Interest Groups
  • Health Institutes
  • Universities
  • Research Centers
  • Conference Proceedings
  • Listservs, Blogs, Emails, Phone calls
  • Newsletters
  • Theses & Dissertations
  • Primary Resources
    • Manuscripts
    • Notes
    • Letters
    • Diaries
    • Other personal information
  • More Types of Grey Lit Documents
Note: Before using any information sources, interogate them - based on 5 criteria.
Covidence - Better systematic review management
Covidence is a web-based software designed to facilitate systematic review projects. With this software, systematic review teams can screen citations, full text review, risk of bias, and etc for a systematic review. 

UM subscribes to Covidence for UM students, faculty, and staff. 
Covidence Video Tutorial
Covidence You Tube Channel

Calder Covidence Guide
Covidence Knowledge Base [FAQ]
Covidence Help Guide
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Appraisal Tools

Systematic Review

  • Systematically and transparently collect and categorize existing evidence on a broad question of scientific, policy or management importance.
  • Compares, evaluates, and synthesizes evidence in a search for the effect of an intervention. 
  • Time-intensive and often take months to a year or more to complete. 
  • The most commonly referred to type of evidence synthesis. Sometimes confused as a blanket term for other types of reviews.

​​Literature (Narrative) Review

  • A broad term referring to reviews with a wide scope and non-standardized methodology. 
  • Search strategies, comprehensiveness, and time range covered will vary and do not follow an established protocol.

​Scoping Review or Evidence Map

  • Systematically and transparently collect and categorize existing evidence on a broad question of scientific, policy or management importance.
  • Seeks to identify research gaps and opportunities for evidence synthesis rather than searching for the effect of an intervention. 
  • May critically evaluate existing evidence, but does not attempt to synthesize the results in the way a systematic review would. (see EE Journal and CIFOR)
  • May take longer than a systematic review.
  • See Arksey and O'Malley (2005) for methodological guidance.

​Rapid Review

  • Applies Systematic Review methodology within a time-constrained setting.
  • Employs methodological "shortcuts" (limiting search terms for example) at the risk of introducing bias.
  • Useful for addressing issues needing quick decisions, such as developing policy recommendations.
  • See Evidence Summaries: The Evolution of a Rapid Review Approach

Umbrella Review

  • Reviews other systematic reviews on a topic. 
  • Often defines a broader question than is typical of a traditional systematic review.
  • Most useful when there are competing interventions to consider.


  • Statistical technique for combining the findings from disparate quantitative studies.
  • Uses statistical methods to objectively evaluate, synthesize, and summarize results.
  • May be conducted independently or as part of a systematic review.
* Adapted from Cornell University's A Guide to Conducting Systematic Reviews LibGuide.
Systematic vs Scoping Reviews
What is the difference between a Systematic Review and Scoping Review and which one should I do?

Systematic vs. Scoping vs. Integrative Review [Duquesne University]

Munn, Z., Peters, M. D. J., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Med Res Methodol, 18(1), 143. 

Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91-108. 
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Cochrane Training on Twitter:
Cochrane Interactive Learning is a an online course offered to all University of Miami Libraries users. Using the Cochrane methodology, the course is perfect for new and experienced review authors alike. It's a great introduction to systematic review for new authors while also offering more insight to the process for experienced authors. 
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Cochrane Registration Instructions

1. Go to Cochrane Interactive Learning
2. Click New Users & Subscribers
3. Use the Please Log In or Create an Account button to create a Cochrane account or connect an exising accountto the University's subscription
Download this step-by-step guide as PDF.

To register for a Cochrane Account Off-Campus you must register with a UM email address 
1. Go to
2. Click New Users and Subscribers to register
3. On the course registration and subscription options page, the pricing information is for information only. You will not be charged. Scroll down to Institutional Access and click Please Log in or Create an Account.
4. If you already have a Cochrane Account, log in. Go to step 8
5. If you do not have a Cochrane Account, please click Sign Up Now on the account login page and complete the sign-up form. 

Please note that you should register for your Cochrane Account using the UM email address validated for access to Cochrane Interactive Learning.

6. Look out for an email titled 'Cochrane Account: action required' which contains a link to activate your account. Please check your junk or spam folder in case this is misdirected.
7. When you have activated your account, you will return to the Cochrane Interactive Learning registration page. 
8. You will see a notification that your email address has been validated and your registration enabled by your organization. No payment is required.

For instructions with images see this page.

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