About Systematic Reviews

What Database Is Used To Find Systematic Reviews

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A systematic review is an analysis of other existing studies that systematically gathers, assesses, and synthesizes relevant literature to answer a focused research question. It requires that researchers consider both unpublished and published studies related to the topic to come up with a comprehensive review that presents an unbiased and balanced conclusion.

This is done by searching multiple databases for systematic reviews which, depending on the nature of the study, can be in health sciences (PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, etc.), education (Education Research Complete, ERIC, etc.), social studies (EconLit, PsycINFO, etc.), or a combination of multiple areas of interest.

How Many Databases Should I Search For A Systematic Review?

All types of systematic reviews in research require that researchers search a minimum of three databases. A combination of three or more databases will yield more articles and help a researcher to make accurate decisions.

Since systematic reviews deal with a lot of literature, people often ask “How many researchers are needed for a systematic review?” You’ll need at least two professionals, though it’s recommended to have three or more people to help with the literature search, study appraisals, and synthesis, as well as other processes and decision-making along the way.

Health Sciences Databases

Biosis Citation Index

Biosis Citation Index Indexes journals, reviews, books, conferences, and patents in life and biomedical sciences.


ChiroACCESS contains the MANTIS database and is the largest index of peer-review articles for alternative medical literature, including chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, and manual medicine.

CINAHL Complete

CINAHL Complete indexes abstracts from thousands of nursing and allied health journals, as well as dissertations, publications, conferences, evidence-based care sheets, and instrument descriptions in the same fields.

Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL)

CENTRAL is one of the most comprehensive sources of reports on randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials.


Embase is a biomedical and pharmaceutical database that contains bibliographic records with abstracts from EMBASE and Medline, with millions of citations.

Joanna Briggs Institute EBP Database

The Joanna Briggs Institute Database provides resources for evidence-based research and includes information sheets, systematic reviews, electronic journals, conference papers, and consumer healthcare information.


PubMed contains more than 32 million citations of biomedical literature from Medline, an essential source to search for health-related systematic reviews. It provides access to life science journals, online books, and full-text content in all areas of medicine and related fields.

Education Databases

Education Research Complete

Education Research Complete has indexing and abstracts for journals and full texts of books, monographs, and conference papers on topics covering all areas of the education field and educational specialties.


ERIC is a comprehensive online library of education research and information. It also includes gray literature such as curriculum grades, conference proceedings, white papers, etc.

Web Of Science

Web of Science is a citation index that contains scholarly citations and abstracts (including documents from symposiums, seminars and workshops) in the sciences, arts, and humanities.

Social Studies Databases

Criminal Justice Abstracts

Criminal Justice Abstracts provides Indexing and links to full texts from scholarly and professional journals in criminal justice and related fields.


EconLit is an electronic database by the American Economic Association for economic literature dating back to 1969.


ProQuest is a multidisciplinary collection of journals, magazines and theses, including those on the topics of business, management and economics.


A database maintained by the American Psychological Association, PsycINFO provides indexing and abstracts of international psychological literature, including peer-review journals, articles, books, dissertations and more.


Scopus is a large multidisciplinary database covering material in the humanities and sciences and includes citation analysis of subject areas and authors.

Sociological Abstracts

Sociological Abstracts is the main source of literature in sociology and related disciplines in social and behavioral sciences.

How To Find Studies for Review

Before searching for studies in databases, you must define a search strategy with your team, assisted by a librarian or other information expert. This plan should detail which databases you’ll use, how many studies you’ll consider, and your eligibility criteria. Only then can you begin scouring the different databases—a step that could take months to do alone.

One way to improve your search is to use literature review software such as DistillerSR, which automates the process so that you can produce evidence-based research faster and more accurately.

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