Skip to Main Content

Systematic reviews and other evidence synthesis projects

What is Evidence Synthesis?

'Evidence synthesis' is a collective term for types of literature research that bring together all relevant information on a well-formulated research question using a consistent, reproducible methodology. Most forms of evidence synthesis have one or more sets of guidelines for conducting a high-quality review. Systematic reviews and scoping reviews are two of the more common types.

Evidence syntheses should be conducted in an unbiased, reproducible way to provide evidence for practice and policy-making, as well as to identify gaps in the research. Some types include a meta-analysis, a more quantitative process of synthesizing and visualizing data retrieved from various studies.

Although systematic reviews are one of the most well-known review types, there are a variety of different types of reviews that vary in terms of scope, comprehensiveness, time constraints, and types of studies included. For more information about different review types, visit the Types of Reviews section.

About this guide

This guide presents practical tools and advice for conducting Systematic Reviews and other evidence syntheses and comprehensive literature search projects:

  • Review types
  • Outline of the SR process
  • Formulating an effective search strategy
  • Selecting & searching databases
  • Managing search results
  • Reporting search methods
  • How HSL librarians can help

This guide does NOT replace the understanding of research design and methodology you will gain from reading sources such as the Cochrane Collaboration Handbook or the JBI Manual for Evidence Synthesis.
Researchers new to systematic reviews, scoping reviews, and other forms of comprehensive evidence synthesis are strongly encouraged to read a guide appropriate to their review type and research question. If you're not sure which would be the most useful, the HSL Librarians can make recommendations.

A free, asynchronous training course on conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses is available from Johns Hopkins University through Coursera at