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How to Find and Conduct Systematic Reviews

Step-by-step instructions on how to find and conduct systematic reviews, intended for students in the health sciences.


1. Now that you have your final search phrases, write down the number of results you retrieve in each database.

2. Remember your inclusion and exclusion critieria from Step 1? You can now apply these criteria to your results using the databases' filters and limits. Filters and limits are generally available to the side of the search results. However, the available filters or limits, and their location, will vary by database. See the box at the right or contact a librarian to learn how to use the filters or limits in the particular database(s) you have selected.

Important Note: in many databases, filters and limits are applied manually. This process takes time, so new (anywhere from 0 to 18-month-old) articles will often not have filters and limits applied. This means that if you are using filters and limits, you may unwittingly remove all new articles from your results! Generally, the publication year and language filters and limits are automatically, not manually, assigned, and therefore safe to use. For other filters and limits, contact a librarian.

3. Write down the number of results you obtain in each database after you apply the filters and limits. Systematic reviews require you to document every step in the search process, so you will need to note the number of results you obtained in each database before and after applying your criteria.

Next - Step 8: Manage Your Citations