A librarian can advise you on the process of organizing and writing up your systematic review, including:
Ready to start a systematic review? HSL Librarians can help!
Fill out the Systematic Review Request Form and the best-suited librarian will get back to you promptly. Our systematic review service is only available to faculty, staff, students, and others who are affiliated with UNC Chapel Hill.
Be sure to reference reporting standards when writing your review. This helps ensure that you communicate essential components of your methods, results, and conclusions. There are a number of tools that can be used to ensure compliance with reporting guidelines. A few review-writing resources are listed below.
The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) is a 27-item checklist used to improve transparency in systematic reviews. These items cover all aspects of the manuscript, including title, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and funding. The PRISMA checklist can be downloaded in PDF or Word files.
The PRISMA Flow Diagram visually depicts the flow of studies through each phase of the review process. The PRISMA Flow Diagram can be downloaded in both PDF and Word files.
Need help with PRISMA? For a step-by-step guide to the PRISMA Flow Diagram, visit the HSL PRISMA guide.
Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, et al. The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration. J Clin Epidemiol. 2009;62(10):e1-e34. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2009.06.006
Page MJ, Moher D, Bossuyt P, et al. PRISMA 2020 explanation and elaboration: updated guidance and exemplars for reporting systematic reviews. doi:10.31222/osf.io/gwdhk.
Rethlefsen M, Kirtley S, Waffenschmidt S, et al. PRISMA-S: An Extension to the PRISMA Statement for Reporting Literature Searches in Systematic Reviews. doi:10.31219/osf.io/sfc38.
Systematic reviews follow the same structure as original research articles. Sections of your manuscript are shown as bold headings in the PRISMA checklist.
|Title||Describe your manuscript and state whether it is a systematic review, meta-analysis, or both.|
|Abstract||Structure the abstract and include (as applicable): background, objectives, data sources, study eligibility criteria, participants, interventions, quality assessment and synthesis methods, results, limitations, conclusions, implications of key findings, and systematic review registration number.|
|Introduction||Describe the rationale for the review and provide a statement of questions being addressed.|
|Methods||Include details regarding the protocol, eligibility criteria, databases searched, full search strategy of at least one database (often reported in appendix), and the study selection process. Describe how data were extracted and analyzed. If a librarian is part of your research team, that person may be best suited to write this section.|
|Results||Report the numbers of articles screened at each stage using a PRISMA diagram. Include information about included study characteristics, risk of bias (quality assessment) within studies, and results across studies.|
|Discussion||Summarize main findings, including the strength of evidence and limitations of the review. Provide a general interpretation of the results and implications for future research.|
|Funding||Describe any sources of funding for the systematic review.|
|Appendix||Include entire search strategy for at least one database in the appendix (include search strategies for all databases searched for more transparency).|
Refer to the PRISMA checklist for more information.