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Literature searching

Systematic reviews

A systematic review is considerably more in-depth than a literature review.  Systematic reviews aim to find and evaluate every source of evidence relevant to your research question.  Systematic reviews should follow a clear and specific methodology so that they can be easily verified and replicated.  In summary you will need to:

  • Define a focussed, clear research question which your review will address
  • Develop a search strategy to include identifying which databases to search and which keywords to use
  • Carry out your literature search and manage the references that you find
  • Evaluate, analyse and synthesise the results
  • Write up your systematic review

The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York has a useful guide to undertaking systematic reviews.  You can browse examples of existing systematic reviews in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Video: An introduction to systematic reviews

Video: Literature searching for your systematic review

Keeping up to date

  • Publication alerts  Alerting services can be used to inform you about new publications which may interest you. Alerts may be sent by email or as an RSS feed.  JournalTOCs offers email alerts with a table of contents for new issues of your chosen journals.
  • Search alerts  Many databases (such as Scopus, Medline and PsycINFO) can provide email alerts when new articles are published that match your search criteria. You will usually need to set up a personal account within the database to register for alerts.
  • Conference alerts  Conal provides lists of academic conferences in the UK and abroad. You can also register to receive emails about upcoming conferences in your chosen subject area.

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