Methods for conducting systematic reviews

This guide, from the EPPI-Centre, looks at the processes involved when conducting Systematic Reviews. Covering the key steps involved, the guide focuses on four main area from approaches to reviewing to making use of the review. The paper also includes detailed examples of search strategies and search logs.


"Everyone has a vested interest in public policy issues such as health, education, work and welfare. Consequently everyone, whether they wish to be actively engaged or not, has a vested interest in what research is undertaken in these fields and how research findings are shared and put to use. Reviews are driven by the questions that they are seeking to answer. Different users may have different views about why a particular topic is important and interpret the issues within different ideological and theoretical perspectives. Involving a range of users in a review is important as it enables reviewers to recognise and consider different users’ implicit viewpoints and thus to make a considered decision about the question that the review is attempting to answer. The aim is to be transparent about why a review has the focus that it does, rather than assuming it is, or is attempting to be, everything to everyone."


  • Approaches to reviewing  1
    • User involvement 1
    • Different types of review  1
    • Methodological challenges and developments  3
    • Structural challenges 3
    • Ideological and political challenges 3
  • Getting started 4
    • Review team and advisory group 4
    • Setting the scope and strategies for the review 4
    • Administrative systems 5
    • Assuring quality 6
  • Gathering and describing research 7
    • Searching for studies 7
    • Searching electronic databases  7
    • Screening studies to ensure they fit the scope of the review  10
    • Describing studies 11
    • Mapping and refining the scope of the review 12
    • Quality and relevance appraisal 14
    • Synthesising study findings  14
    • Drawing conclusions and making recommendations  15
    • Developing the final report  15
  • Making use of the review 17
    • Communication of review findings  17
    • Communication of methods development  17
    • Interpretation and application  17
    • Updating the review 18


EPPI-Centre (2007), Methods for Conducting Systematic Reviews. Retrieved from: