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;

Aim of course: After the course the participants should:

  • be able to develop and validate protocols for conducting systematic literature searches
  • be able to select reproducible search strategies
  • be able to evaluate systematic search strategies and search results
  • have the skills to handle bibliographic references in reference management software for systematic reviews

Teaching methods: The format of the course is a combination of lectures and practical exercises.

ECTS-credits: 0,7

Course director: Professor WSR, Department of design and communication, Tove Faber


9.00-10.30  Introduction
Characteristics of the systematic literature search
Defining the review question
Developing criteria for including studies
Systematic strategies 
 10.30-12.00 Search tools
Adjusting the search strategies for more search tools.
 13.00-14.30 Supplementing the traditional literature searches with alternative search techniques
- Pearl growing
- Grey literature
 14.30-16.00 Evaluating your searches
Deciding when you have searched enough
Relevance assessment of the literature
How to manage the references (EndNote and Covidence)


Read the article in Danish if you just want a quick introduction and read the chapters in one of the books in English – but not both.

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

Higgins, J and Thomas, J. (2019). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Wiley-Blackwell. Available from Chapter 1-4.

Booth, Andrew, Papaioannou, Diana, & Sutton, Anthea. (2016). Systematic approaches to a successful literature review: Sage. Chapter 1-6.

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 2119,32,-