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This LibGuide is based on the Libguide Systematic Reviews from the Vrije Universiteit medical library, Amsterdam

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What is a systematic review?

Systematic reviews seek to collate evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question. They aim to minimize bias by using explicit, systematic methods documented in advance with a protocol.

Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.3 (updated February 2022). Cochrane, 2022. Available from 


The infographic: steps 'What authors do' working on a systematic review


Designed by Jessica Kaufman, Cochrane Consumers & Communication Review Group, Centre for Health Communication & Participation, La Trobe University, 2011. Avalable from 


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Search Strategy Support


Developing a systematic search strategy can be a challenging task. We offer workshops and individual support for staff members and students of the UMCG and UG. We provide regular advice or we cooperate as part of your review team as a collaborating information specialist (with co-authorship) 

Go to: Make an Appointment (Search strategy)

We offer two types of Search support: regular advice and collaboration.
What is the difference and how does collaboration work?

  • Regular advice: This type of support is recommended when you have a general question, for example if you work on a CAT, an educational project or a (non-systematic) research project. We help you with the structure of the search strategy and give tips and feedback. After the meeting we will send you the document with information. Be prepared to invest time to further develop your searches. 
  • Collaboration (co-authorship): This is an option if you start with a systematic review or a scoping review with the intention to publish. You ask an information specialist to be part of the review team. If collaboration is feasible*, together we walk through the steps and tasks related to the search strategies and make a plan. The information specialist helps (a.o.) with structuring the research question, the search preparation, the selection of databases, the development, testing and  translation of the search and the reporting of the search strategies in the protocol and in the final manuscript. The information specialist will be co-author of the review.
    *considering the topic of the project, our expertise and time. 


How can the Central Medical Library help?

Research librarians can partner with you on systematic reviews.

Add us to your author team and we will design and manage complex, thorough searches in multiple databases. We will also provide you with:

  • advise on reference management (EndNote),

  • tables with detailed search strategies,

  • a narrative of the search methodology.


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Sjoukje van der Werf
+31 (0)50 361 6197/ 6200



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Subjects: Faculty of Medical Sciences