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PhD in Health Sciences: Systematic and other types of reviews

Resources for students in the PhD in Health Sciences program.

Seminal Articles on Reviews

Grant, M.J., Booth, A. (June 2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information Library Journal, 26(2):91-108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x. Review. PubMed PMID: 19490148.

Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological frameworkInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(1), 19-32. doi:10.1080/1364557032000119616

Sutton, A., Clowes, M., Preston, L., Booth, A. (2019). Meeting the review family: exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 36(3), 202-222.

Peters, Micah D.J., Marnie, C., Tricco, A.C., Pollock, D., Munn, Z., Alexander, L., McInerney, P., Godfrey, C.M., Khalil, H. (Oct 2020). Updated methodological guidance for the conduct of scoping reviews, JBI Evidence Synthesis,18 (10), 2119-2126. doi: 10.11124/JBIES-20-00167 

Literature Reviews

A literature review describes what related research has already been conducted, how it informs the thesis, and how the thesis fits into the research in the field. It can cover a wide range of subjects at various levels of completeness and comprehensiveness.



Scoping Reviews

"A scoping review or scoping study is a form of knowledge synthesis that addresses an exploratory research question aimed at mapping key concepts, types of evidence, and gaps in research related to a defined area or field by systematically searching, selecting, and synthesizing existing knowledge." (Colquhoun, et al., 2014)

Scoping Reviews are a preliminary assessment of the potential size and scope of available research literature. They can be used to make the case for a certain type of research or as a precursor to a Systematic Review.


  • Define your question
  • Develop a scoping review protocol
  • Create a comprehensive search strategy
  • Evidence selection
  • Critical appraisal (optional)
  • Data extraction (synthesis)
  • Analysis of the evidence
  • Presentation of results



Briscoe Library Structured Review Service

Ready to get started with your own systematic review? The library can help!

Click on the link below to learn more:

Structured Review Service

Systematic Reviews

According to the Cochrane Collaboration: A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. And uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making. 

Useful for pooling data from eligible RCTs and can be used to make clinical decisions; can be mixed methods (qualitative AND quantitative).


  • Gather your team
  • Clarify the question
  • Define eligibility criteria
  • Develop a protocol
  • Search for studies
  • Select studies
  • Extract data
  • Quality assessment
  • Synthesize the data and write the report




A statistical technique that combines the results of quantitative studies to provide a more precise effect of the results. Aims for exhaustive searching. When conducting a systematic review, a meta-analysis is often included for quantitative reviews