Systematic Reviewing

An introduction to systematic reviewing:

From literature search to meta-analysis

Course description
Evidence-based decision-making requires a systematic review and appraisal of the currently available evidence. Systematic reviews as part of grant applications, clinical trial publications in high-impact journals, and ethical approvals do not just improve the chances of acceptance but are often a pre-requisite.

This course offers a theoretical introduction to literature search methods, systematic review processes, and the conduct and interpretation of meta-analyses as well as practical hands-on training using a real-world example. We focus on methods for systematic reviews and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Microsoft Word, Excel, and EndNote will be used.

Learning objectives
The course will enable participants to apply the knowledge and skills required to undertake the first steps of literature searching, systematic reviewing, and meta-analyzing.

  • Literature searching: Participants will learn about information sources, become familiar with the concept of developing a research question, and learn to develop, conduct, and document basic literature searches.
  • Systematic reviewing: Participants will understand the role of systematic reviews in improving healthcare practice, understand and perform different systematic reviewing steps including screening, critical appraisal of RCT evidence, and data extraction.
  • Meta-analyzing: Participants will get a basic understanding of central methods of synthesizing the extracted data in meta-analyses, and learn to describe and interpret the results.

Rather than doing each step in an isolated way, participants will experience first-hand how literature searching, screening, extraction, appraisal, statistics, and writing blend into each other.


  • PD Dr. Christian Appenzeller-Herzog, information specialist, University Medical Library Basel
  • Dr. Thomas Fürst, information specialist, University Medical Library Basel
  • Dr. med. Dr. phil. Stefan Schandelmaier, Senior Scientist, Department of Clinical Research, University Hospital Basel
  • Dr. Soheila Aghlmandi, biostatistician at Paediatric Research Center, University Children’s Hospital Basel (UKBB).


University of Basel PhD students of the Faculty of Medicine and of Swiss TPH (free). Anyone else can participate after paying the respective course fees (see below).

Preference is given to those registered to PPHS

Group size: maximum 16

Workload and credits
The workload is distributed over 3 weeks, totaling 30 working hours.

  • Pre-course work includes introductory videos, quizzes, reading material and a board for questions and answers. The preparation with the provided material is obligatory to be able to follow the course (approx. 10 hours).
  • Course days: On-site or online depending on the current situation. Practicals (approx. 16h)
  • Optional assignment: Mini-systematic review (approx. 25 hours)

Credits: 1 ECTS and 1 optional ECTS for a written assignment. Learning contract required.


University of Basel PhD students of the Faculty of Medicine, Swiss TPH, and those with the PhD subject ‘Epidemiology’ at the Faculty of Science Free
Other PhD students from the University of Basel or other Swiss universities 300 CHF
Any other researchers of Basel University and associated institutes 750 CHF


Minimal Standards

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

Dates 2024

Preparation Phase (self-directed)
4-17 November

Course dates (on-site)
25 & 26 November


On-site | Basel University Library
Useful information

The University Medical Library offers advice and information around the whole systematic review process and literature search.

The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions is a useful tool to familiarize yourself with the different aspects of reviews.

The PRISMA 2020 statement: an updated guideline for reporting systematic reviews