Skip to main content

Systematic Reviews and Advanced Reviews: Databases for Systematic Reviews

A guide to the methodology of and resources for Systematic Reviews


You will want to search at least three databases for your systematic review. Three databases alone does not complete the search standards for systematic review requirements as you will also have additional searches of the grey literature and hand searches to complete. Which databases you search is highly dependent on your systematic review topic, so it is recommended you meet with a librarian

Cochrane, which is considered the gold standard for clinical systematic reviews, recommends searching the following three databases, at a minimum:

  • PubMed
    • PubMed comprises more than 29 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. 
  • Embase
    • Embase comprises more than 32 million citations for biomedical literature with an international focus. 
  • Cochrane Controlled Register of Trials (CENTRAL)
    • The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) is a highly concentrated source of reports of randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials.

Some other databases to consider include:

  • Web of Science
    • Citations and abstracts from scholarly literature in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Includes conference proceedings, symposia, seminars, colloquia, workshops, and conventions. One of the most comprehensive databases of academic research.
  • PsycINFO
    • This database is published by the American Psychological Associations and provides comprehensive indexing and abstracts of the international psychological literature from the 1800s to the present. Documents indexed include journals, articles, books, dissertations and more. 90% of the 3,000+ titles indexed in PsycINFO are peer-reviewed.
  • CINAHL Complete
    • Indexing and abstracts for 5,400 journals in nursing and 17 allied health disciplines, going as far back as 1937.  In addition to complete coverage of English-language nursing journals, CINAHL Complete includes nursing dissertations, National League for Nursing and American Nurses' Association publications, selected conference proceedings, Evidence-based Care Sheets, and 250+ research instrument descriptions. 
  • ERIC
    • A nearly comprehesive online library of education research and information, including scholarly article citations, citations to professional literature, education dissertations, and book listings.  Grey literature such as curriculum guides, conference proceedings, government publications, and white papers.
  • Education Resource Complete
    • Education Research Complete provides indexing and abstracts for more than 1,870 journals, as well as full text for more than 1,060 journals, and includes full text for more than 133 books and monographs, and for numerous education-related conference papers. Topics covered include all levels of education from early childhood to higher education, and all educational specialties, such as multilingual education, health education, and testing.
  • Compendex
    • A comprehensive interdisciplinary engineering database, including peer reviewed journals, professional literature, conference proceedings, book series, dissertations, and trade publications. A broad view of engineering is included with research information from the fields of nanotechnology, bioengineering, food science, medical devices, and more. 

Please note that the above list is not a comprehensive list of databases that should or should not be considered for a systematic review. Reach out to a librarian for more information about how to get started with the search portion of your systematic review!