Conducting and Publishing a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Target audience

We give priority to PhD students of Doctoral School of Life Sciences and Medicine who actually plan a systematic review in the near future.


Systematic reviews are key element of evidence-based healthcare. However, its explicit and systematic approach distinguishes high quality systematic reviews from traditional reviews and lower quality systematic reviews. The course will teach the different steps to take to perform a high-quality, methodologically sound and reliable systematic review. The course is filled with workshops, exercises and personal feedback, thus preparing the participant to get immediately started with his/her own systematic review.


This course teaches the different steps in performing a high-quality, methodologically sound and reliable systematic review e.g. protocol development and registration, literature search, selection of studies, data extraction and management, quality assessment, data synthesis (including meta-analysis), writing and publication.

Objectives of the course

During this course of conducting and publishing a systematic review, the participant will learn:

  • how to develop the topic and refine your research question
  • which study eligibility criteria might be important for his/her review and how to determine the criteria
  • which databases are relevant in the domain of life sciences and medicine for his/her review
  • how to search for effective keywords, how to use mining tools for search term identification
  • how to search for quality filters or search blocks
  • how to build a sensitive search strategy and translate them into other databases in the domain of life sciences and medicine
  • which sources you need to consider to search for unpublished or “grey” literature
  • how to manage your literature
  • how to create and where to register your protocol
  • which tools are available to aid different processes of conducting a systematic review e.g. literature search, study selection and data extraction and management
  • how to choose a quality assessment scale or checklist for quality assessment of included studies and the body of evidence
  • how to perform a meta-analysis
  • which essential elements need to be reported to increase your changes of publication into a high-impact journal

Additionally, the course participants will take the first steps in performing his/her systematic review.

Dates and Venue

  Dates Time Venue

Edition September- October 2023


26 September + 3, 10, 17 and 24 Oktober 2023

9:00 to 13:00 Online, except for the last day (venue TBA)

Edition November-December


14, 21 and 28 November + 5 and 12 December 2023

9:00 to 13:00 Online,  except for the last day (venue TBA)


Precourse: basic and advanced searching in biomedical and multidisciplinary databases (Day 1)

  1. Introduction: what is a systematic review and why perform a systematic review (Day 2)
  2. Protocol development and registration: why, where and how and who benefit from registration? (Day 3)
  3. Literature search, including workshop (Day 2)
    1. formulating your research question
    2. using different sources in the domain of life sciences and medicine
    3. building and evaluating your search strategy
    4. using additional methods and sources for literature searching
    5. documenting your literature search
  4. Study selection, including workshop (Day 3)
  5. Data extraction and management
  6. Quality assessment, including workshop (Day 4)
  7. Introduction to statistical analysis, including workshop (Day 5)
    1. analyzing dichotomous and continuous outcome measures
    2. exploring statistical heterogeneity and publication bias
    3. performing a meta-analysis
    4. constructing graphical visualizations
  8. Writing and preparing for publication: tips and tricks, pitfalls when performing and writing a systematic review (Day 4)


Dr. Nele Pauwels works currently (since 2015) as Information Specialist at the Knowledge Center for Health Ghent in Belgium. After she obtained her PhD in Medical Sciences, Nele worked as staff member at the Knowledge Center of the Belgian Red Cross-Flanders (Center for Evidence-Based Practice), where she developed evidence-based guidelines and systematic reviews, according to international gold standards.
She supports researchers (on individual basis) during all stages of performing and writing a systematic review (i.e. from protocol development and registration, literature search, record selection, data extraction, assessing the risk of bias, data synthesis, writing and publication). She teaches basic and advanced searching techniques in several (bio)medical databases (such as PubMed and Embase), and reference software (such as EndNote).

Dr. Ellen Deschepper, statistician at the Biostatistics Unit of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Ghent University, provides statistical consulting and support to researchers of the faculty and the Ghent University Hospital. She  graduated in 2000 as a Master of Science in Biostatistics at Hasselt University and obtained her Phd in Statistics in 2007 at Ghent University. She has over 17 years of experience in the field of biostatistics and is involved in several expert courses in statistics and in the practical use of statistical software.


Follow this link to register to the course or the waiting list. 

Registration fee

Free of charge for Doctoral School members.

The no show policy applies.

Number of participants

Maximum 10 per course. Due to the limited number of participants, the teachers can give individual guidance and support during the workshop, which was evaluated by participants as an asset of this course.


English or Dutch

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

100% attendance in all sessions

After successful participation, the Doctoral Schools will add this course to your curriculum of the Doctoral Training Programme in Oasis. Please note that this takes up to one to two months after completion of the course.