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Systematic Reviews

This guide offers fundamental knowledge, resources, and tools that can assist scholars get started on a systematic review study.

What is a systematic review?

Systematic Review is a research activity that synthesizes evidence, using articles/papers as its data set. It typically involves a detailed and comprehensive plan to reduce bias by using a search strategy derived a priori, and identifying, appraising, and synthesizing all relevant studies on a highly specific research question. By analyzing all existing research evidence, this method attempts to understand the knowledge about a specific topic, find best practices, and answer questions that lack conclusive answers. 

Systematic review methodology is explicit and precise and aims to minimize bias, thus enhancing the reliability of the conclusions drawn. The features of a systematic review include:

  • clear aims with predetermined eligibility and relevance criteria for studies;
  • transparent, reproducible methods;
  • rigorous search designed to locate all eligible studies;
  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies and
  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the included studies.

Clarke, J. (2011). What is a systematic review?Evidence-based nursing14(3), 64-64.

The Texas State University Libraries supports the Systematic Reviews projectwhich fosters evidence-based research.

How can TXST University Libraries help?

Provide guidance and information to help you:

  • Develop your own literature search strategies
  • Critically review the search syntax you created
  • Troubleshoot searches
  • Develop a data management strategy
  • Direct you to resources to existing standards, reporting guidelines, and frameworks that could guide your study
  • Help manage the overall process of a systematic review and documentation

*Please see the table below for expectations for level of partnership - note that you will negotiate this with the librarian/specialist.

TASK Uncredited Acknowledgement or Contributor note Authorship
Guidance on process and steps x    

Identifying keywords and databases


Recommending tools


Troubleshooting search strategy


Data management consultation


Using search strategy or filter developed by librarian


Help registering a protocol


Assisting with paper's methods section

Review other manuscript sections and final draft     x

Who to contact:

If you have questions or need support in conducting systematic reviews or evidence-based research, please contact the following librarians or specialists:

Tricia Boucher, the Open Pedagogy and STEM Librarian, for literature search and citation management tools. 

Wendy Thompson, Health Sciences Librarian, for literature search and citation management tools. 

Xuan Zhou, the Data Curation Specialist, for data extraction and management, and the methods of conducting a systematic review.