Systematic literature search

Systematic literature search

If your thesis includes a literature review you should consider joining this course and learn how to do the review systematically.

Course description:

“A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question. It uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made” (Cochrane Handbook).  

This course will take the participants through the following key characteristics of a systematic review:

  • a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
  • an explicit, reproducible methodology;
  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;
  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies;
  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.





Characteristics of the systematic literature search

Defining the review question

Developing criteria for including studies

Systematic strategies



Search tools

Adjusting the search strategies for more search tools.



Supplementing the traditional literature searches with alternative search techniques

Pearl growing

Grey literature




Evaluating your searches

Deciding when you have searched enough

Relevance assessment of the literature

How to manage the references



Read the article in Danish for a quick introduction and read one of the books in English – but not both.

Tove Faber Frandsen, Anne-Kirstine Dyrvig, Janne Buck Christensen et al (2013). En guide til valide og reproducerbare systematiske litteratursøgninger. Ugeskr Laeger 2014, July 22 

Higgins JPT, Green S (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from

Booth, Andrew, Papaioannou, Diana, & Sutton, Anthea. (2011). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review: Sage. 

ECTS-credits: 0,7

Course director: Tove Faber Frandsen, Videnscenteret

Course fee:
The course is free of charge for PhD students enrolled in Universities that have joined the "Open market agreement".
For other participants there is a course fee of DKK 2329,-


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