Skip to Main Content

Systematic Literature Reviews

This guide provides tips and strategies for conducting a systematic literature review.

About This Guide

This guide provides an overview of the processes involved in finding and managing information sources for use in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

As with all third-party apps in this guide, inclusion does not constitute endorsement by the guide authors, MSU Libraries, or MSU. If a resource asks you to create a username and password, please do not use your MSU Net ID and Net Password. 

This guide is maintained by Brad Brazzeal. You can reach him at

What are Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses?

The following definitions comes from the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, Version 6.1.

"Systematic reviews seek 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 documented in advance with a protocol." (chapter 1)

"Meta-analysis is the statistical combination of results from two or more separate studies." (chaptet 10)

Before You Begin

A systematic review is a major commitment. Be sure to read a good guidebook on systematic reviews before starting. It will also be helpful to read through existing systematic reviews and systematic reviews protocols. The following journals are from organizations who focus on improving the quality of the systematic reviews and meta-analyses.