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Our next Online course is running from 18th November - 29th November 2024

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The Introduction to Systematic Reviews and Critical Appraisal Course is an online course offering an in-depth introduction to systematic reviews and evidence synthesis methods. The course runs over ten days with around three hours of learning per day, and is delivered by experts from the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York.

Based on research in health care topics, the course is suitable for people from any role or discipline with an interest in learning about the systematic review process, including health care professionals, students, researchers and decision or policy makers.

The course offers an interactive and engaging online experience, blending pre-recorded videos and learning materials, live workshops and group work. Clinics and ‘question & answer’ sessions throughout give attendees opportunities to talk about your research and learning needs directly with our experts.

Attendees are given access to a dedicated website to guide them through the course. This includes all learning materials, as well as forums for requesting support or sharing practice with fellow learners. All of the training materials, including recordings from live presentations and workshops, are available for you to continue your learning after the course is completed.

“I honestly have never attended a course that was so well prepared. The instructors were all very engaging and create a really good atmosphere and motivation needed for a quite intense course. I like that there was new instructors coming in and I was very impressed about how available everyone was to answer questions at all times. Well done!” 

Below you can find out more details about the content of the course and its intended audience. 

If you are interested in our future courses please register your interest 

For enquiries about the course please contact Susan Sutton on  

Course Outline

Course Outline

The 12-module online course takes place over eight half-days, with live workshops each day. 

Typically you should expect to dedicate at least 4 hours each day to complete the coursework, including live workshops, and homework consisting of reading and watching pre-recorded videos. There will also be a short orientation session (Module 0), which will run on Thursday 14th November 2024 for the next course.

The course outline with timings and commitments is available for the November 2024 course - CRD Course Outline (PDF , 161kb). Please note that we reserve the right to change speakers/ course content at short notice. 

MODULE 0: Introduction and orientation 

An introduction to the course content, tutors and facilitators, information about technical requirements and where to get support throughout. This session will also be an opportunity to meet your fellow learners and share your expectations for and questions about the course. This module will be held on Thursday 14th November 2024.

MODULE 1: Developing the review question and protocols 

This module explores the development of an idea or research brief into a review question, and explains how the PICOS criteria supports a systematic approach to investigating a review question. You will also learn about the importance of systematic review protocols and how to write these, and about registering a protocol in PROSPERO.

MODULE 2: Literature searching 

This module covers the workflow of the searching process for a systematic review and the main aspects of planning a literature search. You will learn about sensitive search strategies, using Boolean operators and effective search terms, selecting the right databases for your project, and the importance of thinking beyond bibliographical databases.

MODULE 3: Study selection

The practicalities of study selection, including how PICOS criteria are used to produce objective and repeatable inclusion criteria for a systematic review.

MODULE 4: Data extraction 

This module will introduce you to the tools and techniques for data extraction, including an exercise to practice data extraction in your groups.

MODULE 5: Critical appraisal of included studies

This module introduces key concepts affecting the quality of primary studies and the reliability of results. You will learn about important biases that are commonly considered when critically appraising the quality of a study, and have a chance to apply your critical appraisal skills in group exercises

MODULE 6: Calculating treatment effects 

An introduction to estimating treatment effects from included studies, this module includes practical considerations.

MODULE 7: Meta-analysis 

This module will give a detailed introduction to meta-analysis, including looking at heterogeneity, addressing missing studies and publication bias. We will look briefly at narrative synthesis as an alternative to meta-analysis. Finally, there will be an opportunity for some hands-on experience, with a practical exercise using meta-analysis packages in R.

MODULE 8: Reporting your review 

A brief module looking at reporting standards and associated checklists for systematic reviews. Reporting for different audiences will be covered in module 12 on knowledge mobilisation.


This module looks at how the GRADE approach can be used to appraise the quality of evidence in a systematic review. You will learn about the main underlying concepts of GRADE, including risk of bias, indirectness, inconsistency, imprecision and publication bias. You will learn the principles of completing a GRADE profile through an interactive group session using a systematic review example.

MODULE 10: Critical appraisal of a systematic review 

The core content of the course concludes with an interactive session allowing you to use your critical appraisal skills to assess a published systematic review.

MODULE 11: An introduction to health economics 

This module will cover how systematic reviews can be planned to take account of the requirements of an economic model, including introducing the purpose and principles of economic decision modelling.  You will also learn about the process of searching, quality assessment, and synthesis of published economic evaluations.

MODULE 12: Knowledge mobilisation 

This module gives a rapid introduction to the key concepts of knowledge mobilisation and how you apply these throughout the review process, particularly in disseminating the results of a systematic review to different audiences and stakeholders.  There will be an opportunity to apply your skills in a practical exercise.

The course outline with timings and commitments is available for the November 2024 course - CRD Course Outline (PDF , 161kb)

Disclaimer: We reserve the right to change speakers/course content at short notice.

Audience and approach

Audience and approach

About the course

This is an introductory course, aimed at anyone interested in undertaking a systematic review for the first time, or understanding how to critically appraise a systematic review to inform treatment or policy decisions.

The Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) predominantly works in healthcare research, and examples throughout the course will draw on our expertise in that area. The focus of the course is on systematic reviews of interventions, rather than reviews of qualitative data. However, the course is suitable for anyone with an interest in systematic reviewing, regardless of their role or discipline.

The course is designed to be interactive and give plenty of opportunity for interaction and discussion with experts and other learners in your groups, so you really have a chance to apply and strengthen your learning. Throughout there will be opportunities for ‘ask the expert’ clinics and ‘question & answer’ sessions with tutors to discuss your specific learning or research questions. There will also be group work and other interactive exercises for you to complete alongside your peers.

A Certificate of Attendance will be given out to all participants on completion of the course.

Times, dates and daily work

There are around 2 - 2.5 hours of live teaching on the course per day, with additional reading, video viewing or exercises on some days. You should expect to dedicate around half a day each day to the learning on the course.

The course runs over eight days during two consecutive weeks. It runs from Monday to Thursday on week 1, and Tuesday to Friday on week 2, with some homework over the weekend.

The course will start at 9.30am and finish at approximately 12.30pm (UK time) each day. A detailed course outline with more information about specific timings and how  individual modules will be run will be available prior to the course running.

Technical requirements

We will send you a link to access the course website with learning materials and links for live sessions approximately 2 weeks before the course starts. Live sessions will be held on Zoom.

As the course is online you will need access to a PC or laptop with a stable internet connection. You will also need a webcam and microphone (preferably a headset).

Ability to access Google applications and Zoom



As one of the longest standing training courses of its kind in the UK, our course continues to receive excellent feedback from attendees year after year. Here is a selection of comments from learners who have attended the course:

 “I liked the engagement and dedication and availability of the instructors. They never rushed to close the sessions but instead encouraged us to ask questions.”

“The course website is brilliant and really clear”

“The balance was really good. I never got bored and I liked that the amount of work in-between sessions was not too heavy.”

“There was plenty of explanation and normal non-jargon language so I was able to keep up.”

“I found the resources on the website very useful and I will be returning to them to complete my systematic review.”

“The exercises were great to start applying new knowledge. I found the course really well paced.”

“Very thorough course with knowledgeable experts.”

Registration Fees and Booking

Registration fees for 2024

We offer a discounted fee for the Public Sector (including early bird) and University of York Staff and Students.

Public sector rate - £700 

Early bird rate (public sector only) - if booked prior to September 25th 2024 - £650 

University of York Staff and Students with an active email address.- £600  

Commercial or Industrial sector - £850


Registration fees are UK VAT exempt.

Maximum Number of participants: 50 – we operate a waiting list once courses are fully booked.

Registration for the course is completed online with the method of payment being by Credit or Debit card.

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A Certificate of Attendance will be given out to all participants on completion of the full course.

Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination short courses

1. Cancellation 30 days or more before the event: course fees refunded (less 10% administrative
    Cancellation less than 30 days before event is: no refund

    In the event of the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination cancelling the course a full refund will
    be given, but the University of York will not accept responsibility for any additional costs 
    incurred by the delegate.

2. Substitutions may be made at any time before the course starts provided you inform us in writing 

3. All payments must be received before attending the training course.

4. Deferrals may be given under extenuating circumstances but will only be valid until the end of the
    following year after which there can be no further deferral or refund.

5. Through registering for a course applicants are deemed to have accepted the above Terms and 

For administrative/booking enquiries, please contact Susan Sutton on