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Cleveland Clinic Florida - How to Conduct Systematic Reviews: Step 1: Choose your topic

Your to do list

1. Choose a topic.

  • What are you interested in?
  • What do you want to learn more about?
  • In which area do you think you could make a contribution to your field?

2. Make sure you can phrase your topic as an answerable question.

3. Review the existing literature to check what has been done on your topic already.

4. Decide which types of documents you will and will not include in your systematic review to create your inclusion and exclusion criteria. (Although you can revise these criteria later, it is recommended you have a rough idea of what they will be from the beginning of your research.)

  • Inclusion criteria: characteristics articles must meet in order to be included in your systematic review.
    • Examples: prospective study design, double-blinded, randomly assigned participants, etc.  
  • Exclusion criteria: characteristics that, if met, will cause articles to be excluded from your systematic review.
    • Examples: study older than 10 years, publication in a language other than English, etc.