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Systematic Reviews & Evidence Synthesis Guide

Welcome to this guide on systematic reviews on evidence synthesis! The information in this guide should not be considered a substitute for existing protocols which contain prescriptive road maps for your review process.

Steps in the Process

Before you begin your review, think through and prepare for the project ahead. While some elements of a systematic review may occur concurrently, it is helpful to think through them as steps in the process of conducting a review.

  1. Formulate research question
  2. Define inclusion/exclusion criteria for studies
  3. Develop & implement search strategy
  4. Select your studies (screen & analyze)
  5. Critically appraise selected studies (risk of bias assessment)
  6. Synthesize results
  7. Report findings

How you complete and report each step will depend on the set of guidelines you choose to follow.


Guidelines Subject Areas


Medicine, Allied Health


Multidisciplinary, Environmental, Biological

Campbell Collaboration

Social Sciences, Business, Education, Criminal Justice


Multidisciplinary, Medicine, Social Sciences, Environmental

Institute of Medicine

Medicine, Health Care, Allied Health

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination

Medicine, Health Care, Allied Health

Collaboration for Environmental Evidence Environmental
Joanna Briggs Institute Medicine, Health Care, Allied Health

Which guidelines should you follow?

The above are examples of standards that have been developed to guide a team of authors through the steps of a systematic review. The standards are built to ensure consistency of methodology, reporting, and reproducibility across reviews. It isn't always clear which standards to follow. Our guidance is to:

  • Consult with your librarian
  • Consider your discipline
  • Find model published-reviews and seek the guidelines followed within
  • Consider where your team plans to register a protocol
  • Consider where your team wants to publish a finalized review

Your investigative work should help you identify accepted standards for your field, and then if specific standards are required for where you plan to register your protocol and for where you hope to publish your review.

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