Literature search for systematic reviews

Literature search for systematic reviews

Course description

Evidence-based decision-making requires a systematic review and appraisal of the currently available literature. As such, systematic reviews as critical stand-alone research projects inform decisions from various fields, especially in the clinical and public health sectors. Furthermore, as part of grant applications, health sciences publications in high-impact journals, and ethical approvals they do not just improve the chances of acceptance but are often a pre-requisite. This course offers a hands-on introduction to literature search methods for systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials.

The course starts with pre-course videos that participants can go through in their own time. Students can reflect on their learning process with the help of quizzes. Remaining questions can be posted to lecturers who will answer upfront or within the main course sessions. The main course will be a mix of presentations, group works, hands-on practical work on the participants’ own computer using different software (Microsoft Word and EndNote).

Learning objectives

The course will enable participants to apply the knowledge and skills required to undertake basic steps of systematic literature searching. They will learn about information sources, become familiar with the concept of developing a research question and how that helps develop a search strategy. Further, they will learn to optimize and execute advanced literature searches with text words and subject headings, and manage and document the results.


  • Dr. Thomas Fürst, information specialist, University Medical Library Basel
  • PD Dr. Christian Appenzeller-Herzog, information specialist, University Medical Library Basel


PhD students and researchers that are interested in conducting systematic searches. Preference is given to those registered to PPHS or the former PhD Program Biomedical Engineering.

Maximal 20 participants with a waiting list.


University of Basel PhD students of the Faculty of Medicine, Swiss TPH, and those with the PhD subject ‘Epidemiology’ at the Faculty of ScienceFree Free
Other PhD students from the University of Basel or other Swiss universities 150 CHF
Any other researchers of Basel University and associated institutes 400 CHF

Workload & credits

15 student working hours distributed over 4 weeks.
Note for PhD students: Combine this course with another one and receive 1 ECTS with a learning contract.

Pre-course work: This includes introductory videos, quizzes and padlet for questions and answers as well as reading materials. The preparation with the provided material is obligatory to be able to follow the course (approx. 7 hours).


Registration is now closed.

Minimal Standards

This is a course from the domain ‘Knowledge and Scientific’. The course is focused on the competencies ‘research methods’ and ‘information literacy’.

Dates 2024

Preparation phase
2-9 April (self-directed learning)

Course date
15 April


University Medical Library, Spiegelgasse 5, Basel

What makes this course different?

This course has a high focus on learning by doing. Rather than doing each step in an isolated way, you will experience first-hand how all the steps of literature searching blend into each other. All course materials will be distributed electronically. All teachers are experienced in systematic searching.

During the breaks, you will have the opportunity to network.

Please contact us if you need more information.


This course overlaps with day 1 of the the course “An introduction to systematic reviewing“.