It is important to clarify two different uses of the term ”systematic review” which may be confusing.
A systematic review in healthcare research refers to a specific research design which gathers, analyses and appraises the evidence about a clinical question according to a designated methodological template. Typically such studies investigate the outcomes of alternative clinical interventions by acquiring and analysing large quantities of data from clinical trials or primary studies and synthesizing the strength of the resultant evidence to make clinical recommendations. Systematic reviews are most often medium scale long term research projects involving multiple researchers. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews is the global repository of such systematic reviews.
A different use of the term ”systematic review” is commonly used for a structured search for, and review of, published research papers. These are most often small scale projects undertaken by individual students as part of coursework for degrees at various levels and often involve specific guidelines from module co-ordinators. The student explores and evaluates the literature in a defined way in order to discover the evidence for and about particular healthcare actions or issues. This type of review focusses on first exploring the best ways to search the journal databases such as PubMed Medline or CINAHL. Finding and applying search terms to produce the best results and reporting the search steps, the history and the results is the next step. The final conclusions summarize the best evidence. You may be told that you need to conduct a systematic review when in fact you just need to perform a literature search in a systematic manner.
Structured literature searching is common to both type of review and RCSI Library has created this comprehensive LibGuide which specifies all the main steps and stages.
Research Shorts: Conducting a Systematic Literature Review
There are various different types of structured reviews of published research. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of research evidence are well established and well known types of studies. Scoping reviews and rapid review are two types of studies which emerged in the healthcare literature from 2010 and are now a recognized method of identifying and surveying issues on both broad topics and specific clinical questions.
A systematic review identifies, appraises and synthesizes the evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question.
Explicit methodologies are used, which are aimed at minimizing bias and producing reliable findings.
The search strategy used in the review ideally should follow established guidelines, should be comprehensive, reproducible and documented.
The Cochrane Handbook (188.8.131.52) states: Systematic reviews of interventions require a thorough, objective and reproducible search of a range of sources to identify as many relevant studies as possible. This is a major factor in distinguishing systematic reviews from traditional narrative reviews and helps to minimize bias and therefore assist in achieving reliable estimates of effects. 
Scoping reviews are frequently undertaken to determine the feasibility of more specific research questions. The purpose of scoping reviews has been presented as follows:
A systematic review might typically focus on a well-defined question where appropriate study designs can be identified in advance; a scoping study might discuss broader topics where many different study designs might be applicable. A scoping study is less likely to seek to address specific research questions in detail and will not usually assess all aspects of the quality of data or evidence.
Approaches to scoping reviews
The steps in conducting a scoping study are similar to many review types while maintaining broad and general perspectives:
Scoping reviews are not necessarily quick or rapid alternatives to systematic reviews. In certain cases, as in BEME (Best Evidence Medical Education) reviews for instance, a scoping evaluation is a required preliminary to the main study. Other factors to consider include:
To find examples of published scoping reviews in Medline simply search “scoping review” and combine with any topic of your choice.
Resources to consult on scoping reviews.
Arksey H. and O'Malley L. Scoping Studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 2005;8(1):19-32. https://doi.org/10.1080/1364557032000119616
Colquhoun HL, Levac D, O'Brien KK et al Scoping reviews: time for clarity in definition, methods, and reporting. J Clin Epidemiol. 2014 Dec;67(12):1291-4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2014.03.013
Peters MDJ, Godfrey C, McInerney P, Baldini Soares C, Khalil H, Parker D. Chapter 11: Scoping Reviews. In: Aromataris E, Munn Z (Editors). Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewer's Manual. The Joanna Briggs Institute, 2017. Available from https://reviewersmanual.joannabriggs.org/
Munn Z, Peters M, Stern C, et al. Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology. 2018;18:143. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-018-0611-x
Peters M, Godfrey C, Khalil H, et al. Guidance for Conducting Systematic Scoping Reviews. Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2015;13:141-146. https://doi.org/10.1097/XEB.0000000000000050
Tricco AC, Lillie E, Zarin W, et al . PRISMA Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR): Checklist and Explanation. Ann Intern Med. 2018. https://doi.org/10.7326/M18-0850
 Arksey, H., & O’Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: Towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory & Practice, 8(1), 19-32. Available from: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/1618/1/Scopingstudies.pdf
“Rapid reviews are a form of evidence synthesis that may provide more timely information for decision making compared with standard systematic reviews. Systematic reviews are defined as “a review of a clearly formulated question(s) that uses systematic and explicit methods to identify, select, and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review.”
“Rapid reviews are literature reviews that use methods to accelerate or streamline traditional systematic review processes in order to meet the needs and timelines of the end-users (e.g., government policymakers, health care institutions, health professionals, and patient associations) .”
Rapid reviews target high quality and authoritative resources for time-critical decision-making or clinically urgent questions. Like a systematic reviews they aim to identify the key concepts, theories and resources in a field, and to survey the major research studies. Less time may be spent on critical appraisal as systematic reviews, evidence briefs and clinical guidelines are sought in preference to exhaustive coverage of primary studies. The objective is to apply systematic levels of search and appraisal but within shorter timeframes.
The methods of conducting rapid reviews varies widely, and are typically done in less than 5 weeks. Often policy makers require a short deadline and a systematic review for synthesizing the evidence is not practical. A rapid review speeds up the systematic review process by omitting stages of the systematic review making it less rigorous.
Rapid reviews are best designed for: broader PICO questions, new or emerging research topics, updates of previous reviews, critical topics or to assess what is already known about a policy.
The World Health Organization presents a wide ranging overview in the following guide:
To find examples of published rapid reviews search in Medline search “rapid review” and any subject term -eg- “women’s health”
Resources to consult on rapid reviews
 Higgins JP, Green S. Cochrane handbook for systematic reviews of interventions Version 5.1. 0. Cochrane Collaboration; 2012. [updated March 2011] Cochrane Collaboration. Available from: https://handbook-5-1.cochrane.org/
 Ganann R, Ciliska D, Thomas H. Expediting systematic reviews: methods and implications of rapid reviews. Implementation Science. 2010; 5(1):56. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2914085/
Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD), University of York.
CRD has produced a complete guide to writing up systematic reviews. It covers core principles and methods including how to conduct a review, how to identify studies, the basics of searching databases and formulating search strategies and how to document and report searches. View and download the guide here: https://www.york.ac.uk/media/crd/Systematic_Reviews.pdf
Essential if you are carrying out a Cochrane systematic review, and an excellent guideline for other reviewers.
Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions1
Chapter 6: Searching for Studies
Lists of sources – including databases, trials registers
Search hints and tips
RCT filters for Medline
From September 2018 revised chapters of Version 6 of the Cochrane Handbook, due to be fully published in 2019, are freely available to all those who personally register for Cochrane Training accounts. Go to https://training.cochrane.org/ to access the latest guides and the most recent handbook material.
The MECIR (Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews) project
The MECIR project has drawn up standards for the conduct and the reporting of Cochrane Intervention Reviews. Very useful to follow even if you are not doing a Cochrane Review – use as a checklist.
Each standard is either mandatory or highly desirable and the exclusion should be justified. A rationale and elaboration of each standard is included as well as a reference to the relevant section of the Cochrane Handbook.
Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews. Cochrane: London, Version 1.02. Updated Jan 2018
Items C24-C38 cover standards for searching for studies.
Item C24 Searching key databases
Item C25 Searching specialist bibliographic databases
Item C26 Searching for different types of evidence
Item C27 Searching trials registers
Item C28 Searching for grey literature
Item C29 Searching within other reviews
Item C30 Searching reference lists
Item C31 Searching by contacting relevant individuals and organisations
Item C32 Structuring search strategies for bibliographic databases
Item C33 Developing search strategies for bibliographic databases
Item C34 Using search filters
Item C35 Restricting database searches
Item C36 Documenting the search process
Item C37 Rerunning searches
Item C38 Incorporating findings from rerun searches
The online version of the MECIR standards are continually updated and available within the revised Cochrane Community websites. https://community.cochrane.org/mecir-manual
 Systematic Reviews: CRD’s guidance for undertaking reviews in health care. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York, 2008. Available from https://www.york.ac.uk/media/crd/Systematic_Reviews.pdf
 Higgins JPT, Lasserson T, Chandler J, Tovey D, Churchill R. Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews. Cochrane: London, Version 1.02. 2016. Updated Jan 2018. Available from: https://community.cochrane.org/sites/default/files/uploads/MECIR%20PRINTED%20BOOKLET%20FINAL%20v1.02.pdf