Systematic Reviews & Meta-analyses: Help & Workshops

Guidance on conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

We are here to help!

We are here to help!

Set up a Consultation

Meet with someone from the Evidence Synthesis Services (ESS) Team at the University Libraries. Team contact information is provided at the bottom of this page. If you're not sure who to reach out to, check out our Team Communications in the small box on the right-side of this page.

Attend a Workshop

We host several workshops every Fall and Spring semester. Check out the Upcoming Workshops box below for more details and sign-up links!

[We will not be hosting the 'Evidence Synthesis Basics' PDN Workshops in Spring 2022 - please see the recordings below and/or reach out!]

Evidence Synthesis Basics - Recurring Workshop Series

If you would like to receive PDN credit for any of these workshops or sessions, please sign up through the PDN link. 

You only have to sign up once - either through the Library's Event Page or PDN.

Evidence Synthesis Reviews 101

Evidence synthesis (ES) reviews are comprehensive, rigorous reviews of information and often serve as the foundation of evidence-based decision making. ES review approaches include systematic, rapid, restricted, and scoping reviews. By the end of this 1.5 hour session, you’ll be able to describe the different types of evidence synthesis reviews, describe the general steps required in an evidence synthesis review, be familiar with guidelines and tools, and consider whether these approaches are appropriate for your research goals and / or question(s).

Comprehensive Searches for Literature Reviews

Conducting a comprehensive literature review can be overwhelming - but there are approaches and resources that can make this process easier. Join us for this 1.5 hour workshop where we’ll discuss approaches to identifying essential information sources (e.g., academic databases) and designing a comprehensive search strategy. While this systematic approach comes from evidence synthesis review methods, it is transferable to any literature review.

Literature Review Tricks & Tools

Where do you go to search; how can you stay organized; how can you access something the library doesn’t have in its collections; and how can you be alerted to new studies that have just come out?  In this 1.5 hour session, we’ll introduce you to tricks and helpful tools that address these questions.

Open Access & Evidence Synthesis

This session will begin with a discussion on how open access supports several aspects of the evidence synthesis process. We’ll explore the value of having open access sources to include in the synthesis itself and some challenges that must be overcome when searching and accessing sources that require institutional access or are fee-based. We will also address ways to utilize open access repositories (such as VTechWorks and Open Science Framework) to make your synthesis more transparent so that others can properly evaluate, replicate, or use your synthesis. Additionally, we will hear cases from folks who have used open access resources or repositories as a means to support their evidence synthesis projects. Panelist include:

  • Dr. Sofia Rincon Gallardo Patino, Regional consultant on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Pan American Health Organization
  • Dr. Linbing Wang, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech [unfortunately Dr. Wang was unable to attend this session]
  • Dr. Anne Brown, Assistant Professor, Science Informatics Consultant at the University Libraries at Virginia Tech
  • Dr. Ryan Stewart, Associate Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech

Critically Appraising Literature for Evidence Synthesis Reviews 101

Critical appraisal is a universally useful skill, applicable during a literature review, while assessing an article you’ve found. In this 1.5 hour session, we’ll introduce you to why critical appraisal is important , specifically in the context of evidence synthesis reviews. Participants will be introduced to several critical appraisal tools to evaluate the risk of bias in individual studies and larger evidence synthesis reviews. We’ll also discuss how you may consider approaching critical appraisal in your own review, including how to find and create appropriate risk of bias tools.

Systematic Review Team at the University Libraries

Cozette Comer

Evidence Synthesis Librarian

Liaison to Mathematics, Statistics, Computational Modeling and Data Analytics (CMDA), the Center of Biostatistics and Health Data Science

Kiri DeBose

Head of Veterinary Medicine Library

Liaison to Animal Sciences

Virginia (Ginny) Pannabecker

Director of Research Engagement and Collaboration

Liaison to Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, Systems Biology

SR Team Communications

Email us at:

In your email, let us know:

  1. Your current project research focus, planning stage, timeline, and goals
  2. Two to three meeting times that would work well for you during the next 2 weeks.

Or Book a Consultation through the library-wide portal!

Covidence Self-Paced Workshop

Introduction to Covidence 

Check out this recording from the Covidence Team's presentation to the ESS team (Fall 2021)


The Basics of Covidence

Sign up here!

Watch this video at your own pace to learn about the systematic review software, “Covidence”. Whether you’re conducting a full systematic review, or just have a large number of references to review, this software will help streamline and keep track of the process. In addition to watching this video, participants may attend a Q&A session (March 15May 3) with the ESS Team at the University Libraries. You’ll receive PDN credit for watching the video, or participating the Q&A session - and double credit for doing both!