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Systematic Reviews: A How-To Guide

Step 1: Pre-Review

These are suggested steps for what to do in the earliest stage of your project:

  • Gather a team of minimum 3 members - systematic reviews are not a solo project!
    • Team members need to have content matter expertise. This is imperative during the screening stage in which team members will determine what articles to include in the review.
  • Identify the research question.
  • Do a preliminary search for any recent systematic reviews on the same topic.  
    • If your topic has been reviewed before, is there a good reason for another systematic review? Has new evidence been published since the prior review? Is it missing new major studies? 

Defining the Research Question using PICO

Starting off with a focused question will make your search for evidence easier because you'll already have an idea of your search terms. One way to form your question is to use the PICO model to define parts of your question.

Additional Question & PICO Help

Do a Preliminary Search - Is There a Need for Your Review?

After defining your systematic review question, it's a good idea to make sure there is a need for a new review on your topic. Doing a quick search of the literature helps to ensure that a similar review is not already in progress elsewhere, or has recently been published. 

Some resources to check for similar reviews include: