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Systematic Reviews

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

Steps in a Systematic Review

The main steps above are taken from the following: Collaboration for Environmental Evidence. 2018. Guidelines and Standards for Evidence synthesis in Environmental Management. Version 5.0 (AS Pullin, GK Frampton, B Livoreil & G Petrokofsky, Eds) [Accessed 2/2/2021]. Other guides will present the information slightly differently.


Initial Steps

  • Identifying the Need for Evidence
    • Others may have already done the systematic review that you have in mind.
  • Determining the Evidence Synthesis Type
  • Establishing a Review Team


  • Scoping the evidence
  • Developing and testing a search strategy
  • Planning study eligibility criteria and eligibility screening
  • Planning for data coding (Systematic Reviews and Maps) and data extraction (Systematic Reviews)
  • Developing data synthesis methods (Systematic Reviews only)
  • Estimating resource requirements

Writing and Registering a Protocol

  • Writing out step-by-step how the systematic review will be conducted
  • Examples of places to register a protocol include:
    • PROCEED: "a global database of prospectively registered evidence reviews and syntheses in the environmental sector." 
    • PROSPERO: "an international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews in health and social care, welfare, public health, education, crime, justice, and international development, where there is a health related outcome."

Conducting a Search

  • Conducting the Search
  • Managing References and Recording the Search
  • Updating and Amending Searches

Eligibility Screening

  • Removing duplicates
  • Identifying linked articles
  • Recording and documenting eligibility screening
  • Assessing screener agreement

Data Coding and Data Extraction

Critical Appraisal of Study Validity (Systematic Reviews)

Data Synthesis

Interpreting Findings and Reporting Conduct 


Other Apps and Tools to Assist With Systematic Reviews