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 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 randomized controlled trial 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.


  • Dr. Hannah Ewald, information specialist and researcher at University Medical Library Basel
  • PD Dr. Christian Appenzeller-Herzog, information specialist at University Medical Library Basel
  • PD Dr. med. Lars G Hemkens, MPH Senior Scientist and Deputy Director Basel Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (ceb), Department of Clinical Research, University Hospital Basel
  • PD Dr. Dr. med. Matthias Briel, MSc Senior Scientist and Deputy Director Basel Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (ceb), Department of Clinical Research, University Hospital Basel
  • Dr. Soheila Aghlmandi, biostatistician at Basel Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics

PhD candidates, postdoctoral researchers, and researchers from all disciplines of health sciences (e.g. epidemiology, public health, medicine, nursing science, clinical research) who wish to learn about systematic reviewing. Prior experience in systematic reviewing or meta-analysis is not required.

Maximum number of participants: 16

Workload and credits
The workload is distributed over 3 weeks, totaling 30 working hours. Credits: 1 ECTS and 1 optional ECTS for a written assignment. Learning contract required.


PPHS PhD students of University of Basel Free
PhD students enrolled in the SSPH+ inter-university Graduate Campus Free
PhD students from the University of Basel or other universities 425 CHF
Any other researchers of Basel University and associated institutes 750 CHF
All other participants 900 CHF

Registration is closed

Minimal Standards

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


Fall semester of 2021

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