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Systematic reviews: Write your review

Reporting a systematic review

To ensure that your systematic review can be identified, cited or replicated, you should write a report.  If you have written a good protocol, the write up should be straightforward. For guidance, visit the EQUATOR Network website because it curates guidelines for reporting on different types of trials and research studies, including systematic reviews, and the Equator Network also provides a flow chart to help authors choose the most appropriate reporting guideline.

In the your report, you should describe, at the very least, each database that you used (e.g. Elsevier's and your search strategy for each one (including any limits used).  Your methods should be written in the past tense.  Your methods section should enable other researchers to reproduce your review.  Your search strategy can be displayed in a table format, with separate columns for each database.

Reporting guidelines for main study types


 Study type  Example of a guideline

 Animal pre-clinical studies


 Case reports


 Clinical practice guidelines


 Diagnostic/prognostic studies


 Economic evaluations


 Observational studies


 Randomised trials


 Qualitative research


 Quality improvement studies


 Study protocols


 Systematic reviews


Many more reporting guidelines are available in the Library of the EQUATOR Network.  Some guidelines have been translated into languages other than English.

More advice about writing up

Module 8 in Cochrane Interactive Learning provides advice about the key elements of reporting a systematic review.  The Library is subscribing to Cochrane Interactive Learning.  If you have not done so already, you first need to create a Cochrane account before starting.

Log in to Module 8: Cochrane Interactive Learning