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Systematic Reviews


PRISMA for Searching

The PRISMA extension for searching (PRISMA-S) was published in 2021. The checklist includes 16 reporting items, each of which is detailed with exemplar reporting and Rationale.  This checklist guides the researcher in how to document the search process in a systematic review.

Here is an example of keyword and MeSH search concepts for a PICO question.

PICO: Do e-cigarettes help current smokers, who have tried to quit before, finally succeed  in quitting?


MeSH Terms

"Smoking Cessation/methods"[Mesh]


“Tobacco Use Cessation” [Mesh]


"Tobacco Use Cessation Products"[Mesh]

Keywords (Title/Abstract)

“Smoking cessation” [TI/AB] OR

 “Nicotine Replacement” [TI/AB] OR

 “Quit* Smoking”[TI/AB] OR

 “Stop* Smoking” [TI/AB]



MeSH Terms


“quit attempt*” [TI/AB]



MeSH Terms

“Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems” [Mesh]


E-cigarette*[TI/AB] OR

“electronic cigarette*”[TI/AB]  OR

Vape [TI/AB]  OR



Searching in Systematic Reviews video

Search using keywords

  • Use "" for phrase searching: "smoking cessation"
  • Use * for truncation: protect* retrieves protect, protects, protection, protecting

“Smoking cessation”[Title/Abstract] OR “Nicotine Replacement”[Title/Abstract] OR “Nicotine Inhalant”[Title/Abstract] OR “Nicotine Nasal Spray”[Title/Abstract] OR “Nicotine Lozenge”[Title/Abstract] OR “nicotine patch”[Title/Abstract] OR “Quit* Smoking”[Title/Abstract] OR “Stop* Smoking”[Title/Abstract]


Search using MeSH Subject Headings

"Smoking Cessation/methods"[Mesh] OR “Tobacco Use Cessation”[Mesh] OR "Tobacco Use Cessation Products"[Mesh]

Tutorial: Introduction: What is MeSH?


Building the Search: Systematic Reviews  Tutorial for searching for systematic reviews in PubMed

  • Putting Evidence Into Practice by the Oncology Nurses Society ONS PEP resources are designed to provide evidence-based interventions for patient care and teaching. PEP topic teams of nurse scientists, advanced practice nurses, and staff nurses summarize and synthesize the available evidence in PEP topic areas. Topics are patient-centered outcomes, such as symptoms, that are selected by survey of ONS members and determination of availability of evidence in the topic.

Manage Citations

Zotero is a free citation management system developed at Mason, and now used internationally.  Advantages to using Zotero for a systematic review:

  • Duplicate removal
  • Abstracts present for title/abstract review
  • Format in any citation style

 Workshops are offered by University Libraries.

VIDEO: Zotero in Systematic Reviews

Steps for downloading and exporting/importing large sets into Zotero:

In Medline or CINAHL (EBSCO)

  1. Be sure Zotero desktop is open to file you want to download to
  2. Increase citations per page under Page Options to 30
  3. Find the Zotero browser add-on extension in the top right corner (gold file folder)
  4. Click on the gold file folder extension
  5. Select all and OK to transfer to Zotero file


  • Increase citations per page under Page Options to 50
  • Click on Share (right side above results)
  • Click on Save to folder (this is the EBSCO folder, not the Zotero folder)
  • On the top blue bar find the EBSCO gold folder and open it
  • In the right column, click on Export
  • Check Direct Export in RIS Format on the right
  • Click Save on the left
  • Save the RIS file to the desktop
  • Open Zotero and click on File/Import
  • Choose the saved file on the desktop and import into Zotero

In Web of Science

  1. Choose Export
  2. Click on RIS(other reference software
  3. Choose the number of citations to download
  4. Under Record Content, choose the drop down menu and add Abstract
  5. Select Export and save the file to the desktop
  6. Open Zotero, Choose File/Import and import the file from the desktop


  1. Click on "Send to" at top right
  2. Choose Citation Manager
  3. Enter total number of records to download
  4. Save file as .nbib
  5. Open Zotero. Choose File/Import