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Systematic reviews, scoping reviews and other evidence syntheses

Overview of evidence synthesis reviews and relevant strategies, tools and resources.

What is a systematic review?

Systematic reviews:

  • Undertake a systematic, structured review of all empirical evidence on a specific & clearly formulated research question
  • Use explicit, predefined criteria to include and exclude studies
  • Feature comprehensive search strategies which are systematic, free of bias and reproducible
  • are not “review articles”

Systematic reviews versus literature reviews

From: Kysh, L. (2013). What’s In A Name?: The Difference Between a Systematic Review and a Literature Review and Why It Matters. Poster presented at Medical Library Group of Southern California & Arizona (MLGSCA) and the Northern California and Nevada Medical Library Group (NCNMLG) Joint Meeting, La Jolla, CA. 

Steps in a systematic review



What type of systematic review is appropriate?

  • Choose a type of systematic review which best matches your:
    • Research question
    • Inclusion/exclusion criteria
    • Methods for analysis and synthesis
  • Common systematic review types:
    • Effectiveness
    • Costs/Economic Evaluation
    • Etiology and/or Risk
    • Prognostic
    • Incidence
  • Guidance on different types of systematic reviews:
    • Table 1, Types of Reviews from Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E. et al. What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC Med Res Methodol 18, 5 (2018).
    • Aromataris E, Munn Z (Editors). JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis. JBI, 2020. Available from
    • Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.4 (updated August 2023). Cochrane, 2023. Available from

General guidance for systematic reviews

Brock University Library resources

  • This list of titles in Omni includes books and ebooks related to systematic reviews in general as well as in specific disciplines