Before you begin your search it is important to establish your eligibility criteria. A systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria. Include the following:
TIP: Your PICO statement should help drive what the inclusion/exclusion criteria
EXAMPLE: population characteristics (gender, age, disease...); study type (see Study Type 101 tutorial); date (specific date range if applicable; language (i.e English only); intervention (i.e. participants who completed smoking intervention program).
“A systematic review is a review of a clearly formulated question that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select, and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review.”
Source: Moher, D., Liberati, A., Tetzlaff, J., & Altman, D. G. (2009). Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. BMJ: British Medical Journal, (7716). 332.
TIP: Need more information? Visit the Systematic Review Guide
Once you have created your "protocol" good practice is to register it with PROSPERO, an International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews.
Searching for the literature on your topic begin by developing a search strategy with combination keywords and MeSH terms. Consider the following databases (subject databases will depend heavily on your research topic)
Grey Literature: (Go to Grey Literature for more resources/links)
The summary of data from the individual studies selected (PICO and exclusion/inclusion criteria). Should be a visual representation of your results, clearly defined.