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Systematic reviews

What is a systematic review?

A systematic review is a complex piece of research that aims to identify, select and synthesise all research published on a particular question or topic.

Systematic reviews adhere to a strict scientific design based on pre-specified and reproducible methods. They provide reliable estimates about the effects of interventions.

As well as illustrating knowledge about a particular intervention, systematic reviews can also show where knowledge is lacking. You can use this to guide future research.

Usually, a systematic review will include a search methodology, in which you document where, when and how you looked for information, as well as who you consulted.

To find out more about the process of a systematic review, you may find Oxford University’s in-depth Systematic Reviews guide useful.

If you want to see examples of successful systematic reviews, you can search for them in various places such as on Cochrane library. Our search information on clinical trials and systematic reviews provides more information.