Flinders University Library
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Systematic Reviews

A resource to assist Flinders University staff and students undertaking systematic reviews

Consulting a librarian


Flinders University Library - Systematic Review Service Guidelines


College and Research Services Librarians support the Flinders University research community in their undertaking of Systematic Review activity through the provision of training, workshops, and 1:1 consultations. This document provides a model that details the extent to which this team can support requests from across the research community. It is based on a three-tier model that has been well established at other academic institutions such as Sydney University and Stanford University.

The three levels of service are as follows:

  • Standard service level is aimed at Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students undertaking systematic reviews as part of their candidature and is sensitive to the University’s Academic Integrity policy while also supporting student learning.
  • Advanced service is available to support post-doctoral researchers undertaking systematic reviews; credit of the Librarian’s contribution should be made in any publication’s Acknowledgements.
  • Premium service is offered as a co-authorship with post-doctoral researchers and will provide an agreed number of hours of research services as a part of the Systematic Review team.

Please be aware that all requests are dependent on team capacity and workloads and that we may need to defer some requests if necessary.


College and Research Services Librarians
March 2020


A number of sources were consulted in preparing these guidelines, both national and international, with particular reference to the University of Sydney Library, see https://library.sydney.edu.au/research/downloads/sr-servicecharter.pdf 

Before meeting with us, please consider the following questions.

Is a systematic review required?

A systematic review is a specific research methodology with well-defined, internationally accepted characteristics. These are clearly  described in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Please check the handbook definition before proceeding.

College and Research Services Librarians can assist with systematic literature searching for both systematic reviews and literature reviews being undertaken by academics, researchers and HDR students. Please use our online booking form to make an appointment.

The Library services team can help with literature searching and literature reviews being undertaken by undergraduates and Masters by course students.

Has a systematic review already been done on your topic?
Before embarking on a systematic review, it’s important to first check that a review hasn’t already been done on your topic.  Use the databases most appropriate to your subject area and/or Google Scholar to check for systematic reviews in your area. You should also check for registered systematic review protocols lodged with Prospero, JBI EBP Database, and the Cochrane Library.

Are you familiar with existing standards/methodologies for systematic reviews?
There are established standards and methods for conducting and reporting systematic reviews. Familiarising yourself with these in advance of beginning the review will ensure you produce a review of acceptable quality.  

•    The Institute of Medicine’s standards for systematic reviews
•    Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA statement)
•    CASP systematic review critical appraisal checklist
•    Cochrane Handbook (2011 ed.)
•    JBI Reviewers’ Manual (2014 ed.)
•    The EPPI-Centre’s ‘An introduction to systematic reviews’

Do you have the time and resources required to conduct a high quality systematic review?

Workload and timeframes

A systematic review is a large, complex undertaking that will most probably take many months to complete.

For example, unless your topic is very narrow or newly emerging, you can reasonably expect to have to download, deduplicate, and review for relevance hundreds, if not thousands, of citations once the searches have been executed. This can be a time-consuming process.
Data management
Access to, and familiarity with, citation management software is crucial to systematic review work.  EndNote is the product made available to Flinders University staff and students. It can be accessed on-campus and/or downloaded onto a personal computer. The Student Learning Centre provides EndNote training..

Is your systematic review intended for publication?

If the goal is to publish your review, to which journal do you intend to submit?
The editorial policy of your target journal may set out clear guidelines on the submission of systematic reviews. These guidelines may influence your methodology and how you report the review.  

Will your systematic review inform your PhD research?
If your systematic review is intended to inform PhD research, librarians can provide training and advice on search strategies and database translation. Librarians can also advise on how to set up autoalerts to automatically harvest any new studies published during the course of your candidature. In accordance with the University’s academic integrity policy they are not able to conduct the searches and translate into multiple sources.

Flinders College and Research Services Librarians are here to support Flinders Researchers. 

You may benefit from a personalised research consultation if you are undertaking a Systematic or Literature Review and are:

  • needing guidance with search tools and planning your search strategy  
  • unsure whether you have located all relevant resources 
  • wanting assistance to identify and search the Library's specialist databases  

Appointments are 1 hour and can be face-to-face, by phone or online.

Contact us via ServiceOne or Book an appointment