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Systematic reviews, scoping reviews and other evidence syntheses

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

Time and resources

Evidence synthesis reviews (e.g. systematic reviews) require a significant amount of time and resources.

At minimum, take the following into consideration:


  • The average length of time to complete a systematic review is from 6 months to 2 years (Khangura et al., 2012)


  • Evidence synthesis projects are executed by teams including members with expertise in:
    • the topic being studied - ideally from both researcher and patient perspectives
    • research methods
    • statistical analysis
    • literature searching
  • To reduce bias, studies must be reviewed by a minimum of two reviewers; a third team member must be available to resolve any screening discrepancies e.g. if Review A says Yes and Reviewer B says No


  • You will need access to:
    • Appropriate databases and information sources to gather evidence
    • Software for managing and sharing citations, removing duplicates, etc.,
    • Software or system for screening studies and extracting data


Review this guidance from the Library of Rush University Medical Center for a checklist of questions to be considered before undertaking a systematic review or other evidence synthesis project.


Does this review already exist?

Evidence synthesis reviews should only be done if no existing review addresses your research question.

Ensure you check the following resources to confirm no protocols (statements of planned reviews) or published reviews exist:


  • Systematic reviews and other evidence-based literature useful for clinical research.
  • Includes Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, American College of Physicians Journal Club, and Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness.

Joanna Briggs Institute Systematic Reviews Register

The Campbell Library

Reference: Systematic Reviews by Lydia Thorne at University of Ontario Institute of Technology