Collections and Library Services

Systematic Review Services and Resources



Need help with a review? Health Sciences Library experts and resources are here for UVA faculty, staff, and students for all types of reviews, from critical reviews, to mapping reviews, to scoping studies, and more. Both the Cochrane Collaboration and the Institute of Medicine recommend authors of systematic reviews work with librarians to identify the best possible evidence. Let us help you prepare your review with the best methods possible.


We fully support UVA faculty, students, and staff in their roles related to health and biomedical research and education, and in patient care. However, due to capacity and licensing limitations, we are unable to provide literature search services for professional society committee members and other professional organizational commitments of faculty. We applaud those professional medical societies that employ librarians to support these types of activities.

Librarian Participation Models
We offer two models for librarian participation in systematic and other review types, such as scoping and narrative reviews. Services below are generally limited to UVA Health faculty, staff, and students.

1. Consult model: 
A librarian will discuss your topic, review any terms you have or show you how to develop search terms, advise on database selection, and give you an overview of the review process. Review teams then run their own searches.

2. Collaboration model: 
A librarian is part of the review team and due to their contributions, co-authorship is expected.  Librarian contributions may include the following:

  • formulate research question
  • investigate whether there is already a published systematic or scoping review on your topic or whether there is one currently under development
  • assist with protocol registration
  • recommend databases to be searched, and run the search
  • de-duplicate search results
  • advise on (or manage) choice of screening software/platforms
  • manage PDF availability for full-text screening
  • complete the PRISMA flow diagram 
  • write the search methods section of the review manuscript and provide appropriate documentation (e.g. full search strategy for one database)
  • approve the final manuscript

Contact Us

To request a librarian to participate in your systematic review, please fill out our Systematic Review Request form.  If you have questions about our services, please use our Ask Us form


Review Resources

Working on a systematic or other type of review? These guides and tools may be useful:

What Type of Review?

To determine what review is most appropriate for your question, timeframe, or resources, consult this decision tree graphic from U Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library

Also consult Systematic Reviews & Other Review Types from Temple University Libraries

  • Scroll down to see the process organized into steps/stages
  • Helpful links to Critical Appraisal Checklists (i.e. CASP) and Grading the strength of evidence (i.e. GRADE)

A) The Process as a Whole


Systematic Reviews: A simplified, step-by-step process (UNC Health Sciences Library)

Think about where you would want to publish your review. What types of reviews does that journal publish? Check out the journal's website or use PubMed's Citation Matcher to search on your journal title, limiting your results to review to see what's been done.

In-Depth Guidance

Useful guides and articles on the basics (and more!) of systematic reviews

Review Workflow

Guidelines and tools are available to assist you with the planning and workflow of your review.

  • PROSPERO is a prospective registry of health-related systematic reviews
  • Scoping review protocol from JBI Evidence Synthesis 
  • PRISMA provides a checklist, flow diagram, and other guidance for reporting
  • AHRQ Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews

B) Specific Stages

Managing References

Collecting your citations is an important step in any review. Software and web-based tools assist with this process. All of the following tools have features to help with both formatting your in-text citations and your bibliography.

  • EndNote is a powerful software tool for Windows or Mac. EndNote 20 is available at the discounted price of $249.95 ($149.95 for students) via Cavalier Computers. It helps with collecting references as well as PDFs.
  • Zotero is a free product and is especially feature-rich in terms of capturing citation information for web pages and other document types. 

Want help comparing these tools? See our Citation Managers guide.

 Screening and Study Selection

Much of the work in a review involves managing the process of title and abstract screening and study selection. Fortunately there are tools that facilitate this process with features to import citations, screen titles and abstracts, etc.

  • Rayyan is a free, Web-based tool
  • Covidence is fee-based, but allows one free trial (with two reviewers and up to 500 citations)
  • DistillerSR is very feature-rich. It's fee-based (and pricey), but does provide a free student version.

Want to learn more? Check out these resources:

Data Extraction

Quality Assessment

Tools for Creating Risk of Bias Figures

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