Systematic literature reviews

Systematic literature reviews are often used in Health Sciences, and are done by following an established set of guidelines to review the literature. The broad purposes of a systematic literature review are to categorise the literature systematically, and to make it transparent how the researcher found, selected and assessed the literature. More specifically, systematic literature reviews are designed for researchers evaluating health interventions and randomised trials.

There are several differences between traditional and systematic literature reviews. For example, a systematic literature review includes a methodology in which the researcher explains how they searched for, selected, and analysed the studies. Another key difference is that systematic literature reviews present statistical information about how many studies they searched and selected, and how many studies contained specific topics.

There are several guides available to help you write a systematic literature review. Check with your supervisor about which guidelines to use. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines are commonly used. The Cochrane guidelines are often used specifically for analysing interventions. And the ANU Library has many guides on how to write systematic literature reviews.