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The University of Arizona

How to Conduct a Systematic Review

How do you know you are done?

There is no 'magic number' of results but your search phrase will let you know when you are done. There will come a point when all the relevant keywords and subjects you find in you rsearch results are already in your search phrases. At this point, you will not be able to make any more modifications. This is a good indication you have already captured all the relevant terms. This is how you will know you are done.


When you finally have your last search phrase(s) make sure to write them down.

Step 6-Conducting a Systematic Review

6. Run your search  

A. Place your search phrase in the selected databases advanced search box

  • Each database works differently but all will have an 'Advanced Search' feature that will include three search boxes, one below the other. You can copy/paste different ideas in your search phrase (example: each row into a different search box). 

B. Make sure your search phrase is turning up results that are relevant to you

C. Open the citations for a few of the articles that look good. Look at the subject headings, keywords for that article-would any of those be useful to you? "Steal" all the keywords and subjects that are relevant and add them to your own search.


D. Repeat the search with your new phrase. Searching is a feedback loop.


  • Run a search
  • Examine the results
  • Modify your search phrase
  • Re-run the search

E. Change database(s) and run your search again