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Systematic Reviews: Home

Overview - Systematic Review Process

Before You Begin: 

  • Consider the time required: It typically takes 6-18 months to complete a systematic review since search results typically yield several thousand citations.  Please consider another type of search if you are unable to spend 6-18 months reviewing citations. More info
  • Assemble your team: Principal investigator MUST be a full-time Main Campus or FHC caregiver due to high volume of requests. This person will serve as principal investigator and primary contact with librarians. You will need a minimum of 2-3 members for the review stage to minimize bias.  For additional team members, we suggest including subject experts, librarians for help with search strategies, and statisticians for help with data analysis.
  • Perform an initial literature search: Make sure no one else has already published systematic review on the topic, and try to find some articles that will be used in your review.

Summary of the Process

  1. Develop a clearly defined research question using PICO or similar tools  More info
  2. Determine inclusion/exclusion criteria, such as: types of studies, minimum number of participants, ages, gender, language, or date restrictions
  3. Write and register protocol to document methodology  More info
  4. Develop a search strategy, test, then run in multiple databases. Search for additional articles in grey literature, registries, hand searching journals, and checking references in articles
  5. Screen title/abstracts. First pass to select articles matching protocol criteria  
  6. Obtain/read full text of articles that passed screening to determine eligibility.  Document reasons why articles are included/excluded
  7. Analyze articles for data, quality, and bias
  8. Write review and submit for publication

How can the Library help?


  • Conduct literature searches
  • Document the search process
  • Upload results into EndNote or Covidence
  • Write search methodology section of paper


Request a Systematic Review

Complete our systematic review request form (Please use Google Chrome browser to access this form.) After we receive your form, we will contact you to schedule a consultation.


Acknowledgement / Authorship

  • At minimum, an acknowledgement of the librarian's contribution to the systematic review is requested
  • Co-authorship is requested if librarians write/edit parts of the paper

Systematic Review Service Policies

  • Systematic review requests must be submitted using our systematic review request form. Once this has been submitted, a librarian will contact you to schedule a consultation and begin the process. 
  • Primary Investigator must be a full-time, Main Campus/FHC caregiver. This person will serve as the primary contact with the library.
  • Each librarian will only perform one systematic review per patron at a time. Due to the time commitments involved with systematic reviews, library staff are unable to provide these services for students, part-time employees or other temporary project personnel.  Library staff continues to provide standard literature search services for students, part-time employees, and temporary project personnel.
  • While we do try to work as quickly as possible, we receive a large volume of systematic review requests. Please be aware that there may be a weeks-long delay in processing your request. After you have submitted your request form, we will contact you to discuss timelines.

Systematic Review Team

  Mary Pat Harnegie

  216-444-7335 Alumni Lib
  216-491-7454 So Pointe

  Mary Schleicher


  Neil Nero


Contact us

This guide was adapted from Systematic Reviews: the process at Duke University.