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Searching for Systematic Reviews & Evidence Synthesis: Further information

This guide brings together information and guidance on effective searching for journal articles and grey literature for those undertaking a systematic review, scoping review or other evidence synthesis

Further reading

An online lecture:
Introduction to systematic reviews for librarians
Ms. Lindsey SikoraUniversity of Ottawa, Canada

Systematic Review (SR) Toolbox- Currently off-line temporarily, May 2024

Systematic Review (SR) Toolbox is a searchable online catalogue of tools to support systematic reviews, which aims to help reviewers find appropriate tools based on their needs. It uses a simple, yet flexible, classification system to classify tools based on how they provide support for the systematic review process.

Undertaking a systematic review involves the systematic storage, management, validation and analysis of large quantities of data; activities that can be error prone and time consuming. Automated tools (i.e. software), therefore, can be used to support many aspects of the systematic review process.

For example, the SR Toolbox contains details of Risk of Bias software and websites including RoB 2, ROBINS-I and other risk of bias tools and checklists.

Although the focus of SR Toolbox is on identifying software to support systematic reviews, other tools or support mechanisms (i.e. checklists, guidelines and reporting standards) can also be found.

PROSPERO: Register your systematic review

PROSPERO is an international database of prospectively registered systematic reviews in health and social care. Key features from the review protocol are recorded and maintained as a permanent record. PROSPERO aims to provide a comprehensive listing of systematic reviews registered at inception to help avoid unplanned duplication and enable comparison of reported review methods with what was planned in the protocol.

Consider registering your systematic review and also searching to see whether a systematic review on your prospective topic has also been registered in order to avoid duplicating research.

PROSPERO includes details of any ongoing systematic review that has a health related outcome in the broadest sense. Systematic review protocols registered on PROSPERO can include studies of any design. Work is underway to facilitate the inclusion of reviews of pre-clinical studies. 

Other registers of systematic review protocols include the Cochrane Collaboration, Campbell Collaboration and Joanna Briggs Institute. There are also some journals which publish Systematic Review protocols e.g. BioMed Central's Systematic Reviews.

If your Systematic Review does not fit PROSPERO's criteria e.g. a review of pre-clinical studies then you could consider publishing your protocol on a site such as Research Gate, figshare or Open Science Framework (OSF) or INPLASY (note there may be a charge for registering with this site).

Scoping reviews also can't currently be included on PROSPERO. The PRISMA guidance for scoping reviews (PRISMA SCr) suggests some locations for registering the protocol including Open Science Framework.

Can't access the full text? Interlending and Document Delivery

All King’s College London staff and students as well as staff from King's Health Partners are eligible to make requests for books and articles for teaching and research purposes that aren’t available in the King’s collections.

Requests can be made for books, journal articles, theses, dissertations and other publications. 

Students and staff are allocated a number of free requests at the beginning of each academic year. For more information on how to place a request and to see the annual allocation please visit the Interlending and Document Delivery page.

If you are aware that the systematic review you are undertaking will rely heavily on material that King's does not subscribe to or that you cannot gain access to via other libraries such as the Senate House Library or the British Library then you should first contact the Library for advice and to discuss your specific needs. If you expect to make a large number of requests then it may be necessary to agree with you an approximate time frame for obtaining the requested material that will not adversely affect other customers of the service. In the majority of cases you will find that the free annual allocation will be enough, particularly for systematic reviews limited to the English language in the health, clinical & life sciences fields.