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Systematic Searching Support

Planning Overview

Quality literature reviews take time, patience, and revision. Establishing a detailed plan, though time consuming, can prevent many roadblocks. This section contains detailed considerations for planning and establishing reasonable timelines.

Is There a Need?

If the plan is to publish a comprehensive literature review, it is important to ensure that a similar review has not recently been published. It may take weeks to months to determine an appropriate topic that has not already been published, but it is well worth the time in the interest of contributing to knowledge, minimizing waste, and increasing likelihood of publication. To find similar reviews, search resources listed on the databases page using filters for reviews/systematic reviews. Also search PROSPERO for registered protocols.

In addition to searching for existing reviews, collecting references to articles that  meet inclusion criteria for your review is highly recommended. The Cochrane Library has published "empty reviews" on occasion, but many journals will not.

Review Teams

Assembling a team is necessary if the plan is to publish a review that aims to minimize sources of bias (systematic, scoping, meta analysis, umbrella). However, it is ideal to have a collaborator or advisor for any type of literature review.

When establishing a team, consider...

  • obtaining a variety of expertise (subject, statistical, leadership, students/learners, information and data management)
  • preventing personality conflicts
  • designating a project manager to set deadlines, schedule meetings and updates