Systematic review by Cochrane Belgium edition 2020

Target Group

Members of the Doctoral Schools


All PhD students

Aim and Topic

Trying to get that high-impact publication? Tired of inefficient literature searches? Want the introduction of your thesis to be something more? Why not perform a systematic review?

Systematic reviews are literature overviews that attempt answer clearly defined questions, with explicit methods to identify, select, critically appraise, analyze and report data. Cochrane is a non-profit organization that provides guidance and support to researchers interested in performing a systematic review ( The Cochrane methodology is considered the gold standard in systematic review development.

This 3-day course will teach you all about the different steps to take to perform a high-quality, methodologically sound and reliable literature overview, from designing a search strategy to performing meta-analyses. The course, taught by experienced Cochrane authors, is filled with workshops and exercises, thus preparing you to get started immediately on your own systematic review.
For more information, visit our website ( or contact us at .


Day 1

Mon 15 June 2020




09.00 – 09.30 Introduction to the course and the Cochrane collaboration:

Who are we (CEBAM)
What is (and what is not) in the course?
What is Cochrane, Campbell and Joanna Briggs Institute?

09.30 – 10.30

What is a (Cochrane) Systematic review & how do you start?
What is the difference between a narrative and a systematic review?           
What is special about a Cochrane Systematic Review?
What are the basic steps in the process of an SR?

10.30 - 10.45 Coffee break
10.45 - 11.30 Workshop ‘Formulating your question’:

Having a clear review question is the most important step of a SR.
The research question is clear when all important elements are included (PICO – question: patients, intervention, comparison and outcome).
We will practice formulating questions based on several cases.

11.30 - 12.00 Writing the protocol for your systematic review:

Why do we need to write a protocol before performing a SR?
What does a protocol for an SR look like?

12.00 - 12.45 Lunch break


12.45 - 13.15 Searching and selecting studies:

What is typical for a search for a systematic review?
How to build such a search strategy: sources and search terms

13.15 - 14.15 Workshop: ‘Building your search strategy’:

We will practice building a search strategy for an SR in PubMed

14.15 - 14.45 Workshop selecting studies:

We will screen a number of studies for inclusion in a SR using eligibility criteria.

14.45 - 15.00 Coffee break


15.00 - 15.30 Collecting data:

What data needs to be collected from a study (study characteristics and results) and how do we perform such a process in a systematic way?

15.30 - 16.15 Workshop collecting data:

We will extract study characteristics and study results from an RCT

Day 2

Tue 16 June 2020


09.00 - 09.45 Assessment risk of bias RCTs:

The gold standard for assessing the methodological quality of RCTs is the Cochrane risk of bias tool. This tool will be explained.

09.45 - 10.45 Workshop assessment risk of bias:

We will assess the methodological quality of an RCT

10.45 - 11.00 Coffee break


11.00 – 12.15 Workshop text, comparisons and data in RevMan:

Cochrane’s Software Review Manager can be used to perform and document an SR. This software program will be presented.

12.15 – 13.00    Lunch break


13.00 - 14.30 Analyzing dichotomous and continuous data:  Introduction to meta-analyses using dichotomous or continuous data
14.30 - 14.45 Coffee break
14.45 - 16.30 Workshop meta-analysis: Practicing meta-analyses using the RevMan Software

Day 3

Wed 17 June 2020

9.00 - 10.30 Heterogeneity, publication bias: What is heterogeneity and how to deal with it in an SR?
What is publication bias and how to deal with it in an SR?
10.30 - 10.45 Coffee break
10.45 - 12.00 Workshop heterogeneity: In this workshop, we will investigate heterogeneity in meta-analyses using Cochrane’s Review Manager software
12.00 - 12.45 Lunch break
12.45 - 13.15 Assessment risk of bias observational studies: How to assess the methodological quality of observational studies?
13.15 - 14.00 Workshop assessment risk of bias cohort study: We will assess the methodological quality of a cohort study
14.00 - 14.30 AMSTAR / GRADE /SoF What is the AMSTAR-instrument and why is it important?
What is the GRADE system and what are SoF tables?
14.30 - 14.45 Coffee break
14.45 - 16.00 Workshop quality assessment of an SR: We will assess the methodological quality of an SR using AMSTAR
16.00 - 16.30 Finishing and updating the review: What are the last steps of the process of an SR?
When to update the SR?



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Registration fee

Free of charge for Doctoral School members. A no-show fee of 50 Euro will be charged.



Evaluation methods and criteria (doctoral training programme)

100 % participation