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The University of Arizona

How to Conduct a Systematic Review


Naomi Bishop's picture
Naomi Bishop
University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix

What is a Systematic Review?

Systematic Review: a high-level overview of primary research on a particular research question that tries to identify, select, synthesize and appraise all high quality research evidence relevant to that question in order to answer it. 

Meta-Analysis: a quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance [often found within systematic reviews, but not the same].   

 All meta-analyses should be part of a systematic review, but not all systematic reviews will include a meta-analysis.

Systematic Review vs. Literature Review

It’s common to confuse systematic and literature reviews because both are used to provide a summary of the existing literature or research on a specific topic. This table provides a detailed explanation as well as the differences between systematic and literature reviews. 

Kysh, Lynn (2013): Difference between a systematic review and a literature review. [figshare]. Available at: