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.
Chandler J, Cumpston M, Thomas J, Higgins JPT, Deeks JJ, Clarke MJ. Chapter I: Introduction. In: Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.2 (updated February 2021). Cochrane, 2021. Available from www.training.cochrane.org/handbook.
Define your question
Is there a recent review relevant to your question?
Develop your protocol to include inclusion, exclusion criteria and eligibility
Build your search strategy
Search the literature
Select and critique studies
Extract and synthesize data
Analyse and present results
Interpret results and draw conclusions
Improve and update the review
Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions sets out each step of the review and the Cochrane principles can also be applied to non Cochrane reviews.
MECIR (Methodological Expectations for Cochrane Intervention Reviews) standards for reviews, updates and protocols to comply with.
PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses). PRISMA 2020 statement: updated guidelines.