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Introduction to Systematic Reviews

About This Course

This course was created to facilitate more meaningful consultations between librarians and Stanford Medicine community members interested in conducting systematic reviews. It opens with a definition of the necessary requirements for a systematic review and comparison between systematic review methodologies and those of other types of reviews. There are multiple organizations that provide guidelines for successful completion of a systematic review and we provide an overview of these guidelines from the Cochrane Collaboration, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine), and Joanna Briggs Institute. Next is a discussion of the importance of protocols for determining whether or not a systematic review on your topic of interest has already been completed. Tools for supporting an organized systematic review project are then highlighted, followed by a detailed review of how/why librarians collaborate on these reviews. In the final module, we highlight how you can search for systematic reviews in three major databases: PubMed, Embase, and CINAHL. Throughout the course are small assessments to reinforce concepts and encourage reflection. We hope you find the materials helpful and encourage feedback to!


An interest in learning about systematic reviews.

Course Staff

Photo of Michelle B. Bass

Michelle B. Bass

Michelle B. Bass, PhD, MSI, AHIP is research services librarian at the Lane Medical Library. She is the lead for the library’s literature search service and created this course to create a common starting point for students, staff, and faculty interested in collaborating with Lane librarians on a systematic review. Michelle is also the liaison to nursing and advanced practice providers at Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health. She earned her Master of Science in Information from the University of Michigan School of Information and her PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Photo of Katie Stinson

Katie Stinson

Katie Stinson is a Library Specialist at Lane Medical Library. She is responsible for the technical components of this course and ongoing maintenance. Prior to joining Lane Medical Library, she was the Customer Success Manager for Demco Software, a company that provided technical solutions for libraries across the globe. She worked at the graduate and undergraduate libraries at the University of Michigan while she was in college, which is where her love of libraries expanded. She received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this course for?

Anyone who is interested in refreshing their understanding of the systematic review process or learning about what a systematic review is, and is not, for the first time.

How long should it take to complete?

As much or as little time as required. Reading the full text articles embedded in the modules will be the most time intensive task.

Does this course offer a Statement of Accomplishment?

No, this course does not offer a Statement of Accomplishment. We expect people will come back and revisit content in this course multiple times in their decision-making process for any given project about whether or not they should do a systematic review. The purpose of this course is to have materials readily available, not to necessarily “pass”.