Skip to Main Content
Library Guides

Systematic Reviews

Systematic review


It combines the strength of a critical review with exhaustive search processes and strategies. A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.

The overarching purpose of a systematic review is to identify, analyse, appraise, and arrive at a considered and balanced judgement. Individual sources of research are gathered and evaluated side-by-side. Reviewers will rigorously create a record of the origin of the information and data they find, summarise and appraise each piece of evidence according to a strict criteria, and synthesise findings based on the primary source material in their review.

Common characteristics

  • Aim to identify, synthesise and present all of the scholarly research on a particular topic, including both published and unpublished studies.
  • An explicit, reproducible and uniformly applied criteria for the inclusion/exclusion of studies.
  • Conducted to reduce any bias, by accessing the validity of the findings of the included studies.
  • Time and resource intensive, often using a team or collaborative approach.
  • Contains a clear reason or motivation behind conducting a systematic review.
  • Can be many hundreds of pages long - depending on the topic area and focus of the review.