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Medical Sciences: Systematic Review & Meta Analysis

Recommended resources for the College of Osteopathic Medicine

Hierarchy of Reviews: Most Common Types with Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis Considered the Highest Quality of Evidence


Literature Review Example

Remember, a literature review provides an overview of a topic. There may or may not be a method for how studies are collected or interpreted. Lit reviews aren't always obviously labeled "literature review"; they may be embedded within sections such as the introduction or background. You can figure this out by reading the article. 

Systematic Review Examples

Systematic reviews address a clinical question.  Reviews are gathered using a specific, defined set of criteria.


  • Selection criteria is defined
  • The words "Systematic Review" may appear int he title or abstract
  • Use Cochrane Library to search for reviews
    • BTW -> Cochrane Reviews aka Systematic Reviews

Meta-Analysis Examples

Meta-analysis is a study that combines data from OTHER studies. All the studies are combined to argue whether a clinical intervention is statistically significant by combining the results from the other studies.  For example, you want to examine a specific headache intervention without running a clinical trial.  You can look at other articles that discuss your clinical intervention, combine all the participants from those articles, and run a statistical analysis to test if your results are significant. Guess what? There's a lot of math. 


  • Include the words "meta-analysis" or "meta analysis" in your keywords
  • Meta-analyses will always be accompanied by a systematic review, but a systematic review may not have a meta-analysis
  • See if the abstract or results section mention a meta-analysis
  • Use databases like Cochrane or PubMed

Cochrane CollectionLocalaccess for all registered users. Remote access only for NSU. Plus- EBSCOhost
Cochrane Collection Plus combines the most comprehensive databases from the Cochrane Library 
including: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Clinical Answers, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Methodology Register.

PubMed Central (PMC)Local access for all users. Remote access is not available. - Public Web site
More than 19 million citations for biomedical articles from MEDLINE and life science journals. Citations may include links to full-text articles from PubMed Central or publisher 
web sites.