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Systematic Reviews

Writing up


Structure is key as with any piece of academic writing. Include a:

  • statement of principle findings,
  • discussions of strengths and weaknesses, compared to other studies,
  • implications for practice. 
  • Include unanswered questions and ideas for future research.

In your discussion:

  • Relate findings back to initial objectives of the review
  • Discuss any weaknesses in methodology of any included study  (eg this study only looked at girls - this allows others to see if it's applicable to their practice eg if they were interested in studies covers boys).  
  • Discuss the data extracted using PICO or PEO as the basis.  
  • Discuss ethical issues

Important to discuss any problems with the research you encountered  and explain your methodology  - why only English language, any date ranges you included.   Did you look at PhDs or other grey literature.  Did you contact key researchers for unpublished material?  Doing this helps to explain away any bias that might have crept in


Bettany-Saltikov (2012)  suggests this structure for a systematic review.  However it is important to look at the assignment brief you have been given and align your work to that.  




Contents page

Abbreviations or glossary (if relevant)

Structured abstract



Search strategy

Study selection

Study appraisal

l• Data extraction and synthesis




Main text

1 Background

2 Review question(s)

3 Objectives

4 Search strategy

5 Study selection

6 Study appraisal

7 Data extraction and synthesis

8 Results

9 Discussion

10 References

11 Conclusions

12 Appendices.

BETTANY-SALTIKOV, J., 2012. How to do a systematic literature review in nursing a step-by-step guide. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press


Examples of Systematic Reviews

These are all available through the library catalogue article search

BLOMBERG, K. et al., 2016. Interventions for compassionate nursing care: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 62, 137–155

RICE, S. et al., 2018. Sport-Related Concussion and Mental Health Outcomes in Elite Athletes: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine, 48(2), 447–465


Also look at the Cochrane Database for Systematic Reviews