High Level Reviews (systematic, integrative, scoping)

Integrative Reviews, Scoping Reviews, and Systematic Reviews are high level literature reviews.

Managing your search results

You can use bibliographic management software such as EndNote to manage your search results. This allows you to:

  • export records from databases into a personal library of references
  • attach files to references
  • organise references into folders or groups

Note: It is important to keep your EndNote library safe and backed up as you will need to refer back to it through the review process and for reporting.


When you have finalised your search strategy:

  1. Perform your search in each database as per your protocol.
  2. Export the records to your bibliographic manager.
  3. Label them with the search, the database and the date.
  4. File them in the group or folder for that specific database so they are organised ready for screening in Covidence.

Note: The same article might appear in multiple databases. You will need to remove duplicates before you move on to the screening part of your review.



Video Watch a short video on managing your results (1:12).

Video Watch a short video on Covidence (0:53).

Capture your search for reporting

Capturing the metadata for your searches is a vital part of the high level review process. This is needed to ensure reproducibility.

The PRISMA framework lists the following as required. We use Medline here as an example:

  1. Title of the database e.g. MEDLINE

  2. Name of the database/interface e.g. Ovid

  3. Date range of available resources in each database. e.g. 1946 to February 01, 2022

  4. Date the search was conducted e.g. December 2021 to February 2022

  5. Years covered by the search – list any date limits that were applied. e.g. 2015 - 2022

  6. Complete search string (including all search terms and any limits)


Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) are reporting guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Often journals will ask you to report your systematic review results using PRISMA or another relevant reporting guideline.

If you are undertaking a scoping review you can access the PRISMA extension, PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) opens in a new window

If you are undertaking an integrative review you are only required to fill out the PRISMA 2020 Flow Diagram opens in a new window.

When to update your search

There are some circumstances that will require you to update your searches. Some of these are:

  • There was a leave of absence during your conducting the review
    According to the Cochrane Handbook 'The search must be rerun close to publication, if the initial search date is: more than 12 months (preferably six months) from the intended publication date, and the results screened for potentially eligible studies' - 4.4.10 Timing of searches opens in a new window. In addition, journals may require that searches are re-run before publication if it has been several months since initial searches were conducted.

  • Your review is an update of a previously available review
    There are many reasons that a review may be updated, new studies being published or flaws being identified in the pre-existing review.


The reason for updating your search is to locate any newly published or indexed papers from within your chosen databases. This section of the guide will assist in reconducting the search without needing to redo the entire screening process. An important part of the search update process includes a review of the chosen subject headings and other set terms, in case of any changes to the databases.

Set up database alerts to automatically repeat your search

We recommend that you set up database alerts on your search to ensure that you are made aware of new publications relevant to your search.

You will then receive regular updates via email or RSS (depending on the database) without the need to go back and repeat the search yourself.

Please visit our Alerting and Current Awareness Service Library Guide for further information.

Further Reading

Dealing with duplicates


Documenting and reporting your searches


Updating your searches