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Finding Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Tips on how find systematic reviews and meta-analyses in Pubmed, CINAHL, and Cochrane.


Systematic Review: A systematic review is a critical assessment and evaluation of all research studies that address a particular clinical issue. The researchers use an organized method of locating, assembling, and evaluating a body of literature on a particular topic using a set of specific criteria. A systematic review typically includes a critical appraisal of the included studies, and a description of the findings of the collection of research studies.

Meta-Analysis:  Similar to a systematic review, but the researchers take the process one step further by combining data from the included research studies, and using the pooled data to come to new statistical conclusions. A meta-analysis is a statistical process that combines the findings from individual studies.

Finding Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses in PubMed

  • Go to
  • Run your search in PubMed, keeping your search terms relatively broad
  • Along the left-hand side of the screen you will see a list of Filters. Under “Article Types” click “customize”
  • Select the boxes next to Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis and click “Show”
  • Once the Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis options are displayed, simply click them to activate the filters.
  • At the top of the screen, an information icon telling you limits have been applied will appear, and the limits along the left side of the page should turn dark blue.

Finding Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses in CINAHL

  • Go to
  • From the main search page, enter your terms into the search fields.
  • Before you click search, scroll down to the lower right-hand side of the page and look for the “Publication Type” search box.
  • Within the Publication Type search box, scroll down until you see Meta-Analysis.
  • High light Meta-Analysis by clicking on it, and then continue scrolling until you see “Systematic Review.” Hold down the “Ctrl” key on a PC, or the "Command" key on a Mac and click “Systematic Review”. Using the  “Ctrl” key/ "Command" key will allow you to make multiple selections.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Search.” Along the left side of the page you’ll see “Publication Type: Meta-Analysis, Systematic Review” under active limits.

Finding Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses in the Cochrane Library

  • The Cochrane Library consists of six individual databases. Of the six, two are helpful for locating meta-analysis and systematic reviews: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and the Database of Abstract of Reviews of Effects (DARE). The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews contains full-text systematic reviews and meta-analysis, while DARE includes critical appraisals of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis. Enter your search terms in the search fields and click “Search.”
  • Along the left hand side of the results page you’ll see a series of filters. 
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