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Systematic Reviews and Evidence Syntheses: Home

How to do and find systematic reviews.

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers at the University of Oxford and staff in Oxford University Hospitals Trust seeking up to date information on how to carry out systematic reviews.

Use this guide to find out about this research technique and learn where to go for more help.

If you are planning to carry out a systematic review, it is worth contacting your outreach librarian (medical sciences and NHS staff and students) or subject librarian (other disciplines) at the start. They can help advise you on all aspects of the review process and in some cases work with you on the review directly.

What is a systematic review?

A systematic review is a high-level overview of primary research on a particular research question that tries to identify, select, synthesize and appraise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question in order to answer it.

Systematic reviews are an approach used in health, education and social policy (as part of evidence based policy or practice). It's much more than a literature review - it follows a strict methodology which means it's transparent, rigorous and replicable.


Five steps to a Systematic Review

1. Formulate your question
2. Search for studies
3. Assess the quality of studies
4. Summarise the evidence
5. Interpret the findings

This quick guide will cover steps 1-2 in detail and signpost resources that will help you with steps 3-5.

Major organisations in this area are the Cochrane Collaboration (health), Joanna Briggs Institute (health), Campbell Collaboration (education, social policy) and Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (environment) 

Introductory information

Contact Us

Individual stamps of letters spelling HELP

Contact our team of Outreach Librarians for help with anything in this guide.

Outreach Librarians

Karine Barker
01865 272802
Department of Biochemistry, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, Department of Pharmacology, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Department of Experimental Psychology.

Eli Harriss  
01865 289383
Nuffield Department of Medicine units and the Department of Psychiatry

Matthew Henry
01865 740471
MSD and NHS staff and students in Acute & General Medicine, Allied Health Therapies, Paediatrics, Pharmacy, MSD and NHS staff and students in Gastroenterology, BRC.

Nia Roberts
01865 289409
Primary Care, Public Health, NHS staff in Cancer Services

Carolyn Smith
01295 229316
MSD and NHS staff and students based at the Horton Hospital, Women’s Services, Emergency Department, Infection Control, Radiology, Health Management, Laboratory Medicine and Clinical Sciences

Kat Steiner
01865 738145
MSD and NHS staff and students in NDORMS and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre

Neal Thurley
01865 222920
MSD and NHS staff and students in Anaesthetics, ENT, Neurosciences, Ophthalmology, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Plastics

Position vacant
MSD and NHS staff and students in Anaesthetics and Theatres, Cardiac Services, Critical Care, Intensive Care, Surgery, Trauma.

Position vacant
MSD and NHS staff and students based at the Churchill (e.g. OCDEM, Renal/Urology, Dermatology, Palliative Medicine including Sobell House, Paediatrics – Oxford Vaccine Group) and the Department of Oncology.   

NB: Churchill Allied Health Professionals: please contact Matthew Henry; Cancer Hospital staff: please contact Nia Roberts.