VU Systematic Literature Reviews: Overview

Overview of systematic reviews

This guide will explain the process of conducting a formal systematic review as well as provide you with relevant resources to ensure that you're meeting discipline standards. It's important to understand the time and resources that are required before you embark on conducting a systematic review. This decision tree, gives a good, quick overview of what goes into each type of review. If you'd like to discuss the systematic review methodology in greater detail and decide which review is right for you, please make time to talk to a librarian.

Move through the slide deck below to get an overview of systematic reviews. 

University of South Australia. (2019, March 14). What is a systematic review [Video]. YouTube.

Guidelines and standards

A good way to think of the following guidelines is as a 'reporting standard'. By referencing these standards it is a way of signalling that you have done your due diligence when it comes to ensuring the transparency, reproducibility and therefore credibility of your review. In addition, it may be the case that specific journals have particular requirements in regards to these standards, so it is worthwhile checking what is required in the journal you are considering. All of the guidelines and standards outlined here are both well-established and authoritative so they serve as an excellent starting point for your systematic review.

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“The process of preparing and publishing a Cochrane Review is different from that for other journals. Reviews are typically registered at conception and there is a closer working relationship between Cochrane and the review authors. In addition, Cochrane Reviews follow a highly structured format so that they can be published within the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and their preparation follows a structured process.”

-Cochrane Handbook, Part 1, Chapter 2.1.

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Further resources


Thanks to UniSA for creating a guide on Systematic Reviews and sharing its contents as a basis for this guide. The UniSA guide was developed with the assistance and expertise of Dr Anna PhillipsProf Saravana Kumar, and Assoc Prof Shylie Mackintosh.



     This content is licensed to Victoria University under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Acknowledgement of Country

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Ancestors, Elders and families of the Kulin Nation (Melbourne campuses), the Eora Nation (Sydney campus) and the Yulara/Yugarapul and Turrbal Nation (Brisbane campus) who are the traditional owners of University land. As we share our own knowledge practices within the University, may we pay respect to the deep knowledge embedded within the Aboriginal community and recognise their ownership of Country.

We acknowledge that the land on which we meet, learn, and share knowledge is a place of age-old ceremonies of celebration, initiation and renewal, and that the Traditional Owners living culture and practices have a unique role in the life of this region. Learn more from our Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit.