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Systematic Reviews

Learn how the library can support you with your systematic review.


A systematic review may take up to 12 months or more to complete.  This can vary depending upon the number of databases you search, how many items are retrieved, the number of people you work with on the review, your experience with the systematic review process, etc.  MCW librarians can help you with your search and save you time.  Please contact us with any questions about systematic reviews.  To request a systematic review, please request a reference consultation.

Systematic Review Process

Source: Sharma A, Badawy SM, Suelzer EM, et al. Systematic Reviews in Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy: Considerations and Guidance from the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, and Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research Late Effects and Quality of Life Working Committee. Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. Published online January 28, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.jtct.2020.12.002

Six Steps of a Systematic Review

Step 1:  Initiate the process, organize the review team, develop a process for gathering user and stakeholder input, formulate the research question, and implement procedures for minimizing the impact of bias and conflict of interests (see standards in Chapter 2).

Step 2:  Develop the review protocol, including the context and rationale for the review and the specific procedures for the search strategy, data collection and extraction, qualitative synthesis and quantitative data synthesis (if a meta-analysis is done), reporting, and peer review (see standards in Chapter 2).

Step 3: Systematically locate, screen, and select the studies for review (see standards in Chapter 3).

Step 4:  Appraise the risk of bias in the individual studies and extract the data for analysis (see standards in Chapter 3).

Step 5:  Synthesize the findings and assess the overall quality of the body of evidence (see standards in Chapter 4).

Step 6:  Prepare a final report and have the report undergo peer review (see standards in Chapter 5).

Conceptual Framework. Fundamentals of Systematic Reviews. IN: Finding What Works in Health Care: Standards for Systematic Reviews (full report) Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. 2011. pp. 26-27

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