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Knowsy is an online portal of LGBTQ2SI+* focused systematic reviews, scoping studies, and evidence maps.

It is accessible and free to use.

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Knowsy is a comprehensive online portal for 2SLGBTQI+ knowledge synthesis. It is independent, impartial, and freely accessible to all.

Our mission is to support the advancement of 2SLGBTQI+ related research, inform healthcare practices and empower the community through better access to evidence-based research.


To identify the references in this database, we developed a comprehensive search strategy of LGBTQ2SI+ terms to search four of the largest academic health databases: PubMed, CINAHL, Embase, and PsycINFO. Two reviewers screened references on title and abstract, and then on full text to ensure that they met our inclusion criteria. This resulted in a dataset of nearly 600 references. Finally, we extracted key information about each article to allow users to filter information by subject, population (2SLGBTQI+), and type of review. To know more about our screening process, please consult the About page .


We encourage researchers, the 2SLGBTQI+ community and their family members, healthcare providers, policymakers, researchers, community organizations, and activists to use Knowsy as an information source to answer questions, to inform policy and practice, and for further research. For more information about how to use Knowsy, please refer to our FAQ page .


*Twp-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.


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FAQ & Resources

  • How does Knowsy work?

KNOWSY is a searchable database. You can search for articles by using keywords and/or by selecting our subject tags on the left-hand side of the search area. The subject tags capture each article’s purpose as identified by the author, and can be used to find all the articles in the database that examine similar topics. You can also filter articles by subject, population (2SLGBTQI+), type of review, author, year of publication, or journal. The full database can be accessed through the browse all feature of our portal. As we cannot legally upload articles to our database, you will be linked to the journal that features the article for download. Please note that many will require an academic login unless they are open access.

  • Who is it for?

KNOWSY is designed for anyone who wants further information on the status of research on a broad range of  2SLGBTQI+ topic areas. In addition to serving the academic community, KNOWSY provides access to information for LGBTQ2SI+ community members, organizations and allies. Since the four online databases we used to identify articles are predominantly medical, health and psychology journals, KNOWSY may be particularly useful to healthcare and social service providers.


  • What are systematic reviews and scoping studies?


Systematic reviews: According to the Cochrane Collaboration “A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view aimed at minimizing bias, to produce more reliable findings to inform decision making”. 



Scoping reviews also use systematic methods but differ from systematic reviews in their aim. Scoping reviews approach topics more broadly and seek to gain a larger overview of the research that has been conducted rather than to answer specific questions (Arksey & O’Malley, 2005, p. 20 ). This type of research can stand alone or may lead to the development of more specific questions which may be addressed in future research reviews.


Evidence maps provide a broader review of the available knowledge in a particular field to highlight the evidence and gaps in the research and assess the quality of that research. The mapping of the research "presents results in a user-friendly format, often a visual figure or graph, or a searchable database” (Miake-Lye et al., 2016, p. 18 ).  This type of review can guide researchers towards the areas that require further investigation and can help inform future research.


For more information on academic articles and reviews, please see our resources section below.


  • How did you choose the papers?

Beyond ensuring papers met our inclusion criteria, we chose not to curate the content. We want 2SLGBTQI+ communities, researchers and healthcare providers to have as much information as possible in order to fill gaps and learn from past and current research practices. Further, we chose not to curate content in an attempt to  ensure that our individual perspectives, identities, and experiences did not alter the scope of the information provided. We believe that there is value in providing access to a variety of perspectives and research practices including those that we understand to be harmful. This can help researchers, practitioners, and community members to identify historical or current problem areas. This means that some of the articles include outdated and discriminatory language and research techniques that have been shown to harm the community. We encourage those accessing the content in our database to adopt a critical lens and to question the research methods, intentions, historical shifts and the impact that these may have on 2SLGBTQI+ communities.

  • Is it free?

Yes. KNOWSY is absolutely free for all users. You can search and browse our database where we provide users with the title, abstract, and reference details. Some full-text articles are available online for free through open access journals while others may require subscriptions or memberships.


  • Who’s behind this?

Initiated by Anne-Marie Parent and Zack Marshall, Knowsy was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) through a trainee award for Hacking the Knowledge Gap from the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health. As the project unfolded, the team grew to include Nathan Farley, Shay Hadley, Miquelle Skeete, Katharine Hall, Rebecca Gower, and our partners at Sur Place Media.


  • Resources

Knowsy is a community-oriented portal. While we primarily serve academic professionals, we hope it will be useful to non academics as well. To that end, you will find below some practical resources on navigating scientific literature, as well as links to partner organizations and other portals that share our goals.


Reading journal articles efficiently, McGill Library Guides



Systematic Reviews, Scoping Reviews, and other Knowledge Syntheses, McGill Library Guides



LGBTQ+ Studies Research Guide, McGill Library Guides


Arksey, H., & O'Malley, L. (2005). Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International journal of social research dmethodology, 8(1), 19-32.

Miake-Lye, I. M., Hempel, S., Shanman, R., & Shekelle, P. G. (2016). What is an evidence map? A systematic review of published evidence maps and their definitions, methods, and products. Systematic reviews, 5(1), 28.

How do papers end up in the database?

Our  development process was guided by three main goals:

  • Access - The database consolidates research related to 2SLGBTQI+ communities which promotes access to information and knowledge.  We also provide the abstract and a link to the full reviews, some of which are available for free through open-access journals.

  • - We feature systematic reviews, scoping reviews, meta-analyses, evidence maps and other structured reviews that employ systematic methods to search for and synthesize their research findings. These articles are published in trusted, peer-reviewed journals.

  • Ease of navigation - Since the literature uses a wide variety of terms related to sexual orientation and gender identity as well as the subjects they explore, we manually tagged articles based on their subjects and populations to simplify your search process.


Screening Process


To find the articles that populate our portal, we developed a search strategy  for each academic database and imported and screened all articles to ensure they met our inclusion criteria. Below is our step-by-step process:


Step 1 - Created comprehensive search strategies of 2SLGBTQI+ terms.

Step 2 - Conducted searches in PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Embase.


Step 3 - Screened article abstracts using EPPI-Reviewer based on three inclusion criteria: If they were a scoping or systematic review, if they were 2SLGBTQI+ focused and if they were in English or French. In addition to systematic reviews, scoping reviews, and evidence maps, other structured reviews were included if they met the following criteria: The authors provided their search strategy including their search terms, the academic databases that they searched, and they provided criteria for their inclusion and exclusion of studies in their research syntheses.  We excluded single study papers, case studies, and commentaries as well as studies with mixed samples of non-2SLGBTQI+ populations.

Step 4 - Screened articles on full-text to confirm they met the inclusion criteria. Each article was independently reviewed by two reviewers and disagreements were reconciled through consensus.

Step 5 - To improve the search function and provide greater ease in navigating the online portal, articles were assigned subject categories and population tags based on their title, abstract, and purpose. This process of extracting key information and assigning subject tags was done in a systematic way, the results of which are being used to develop an evidence map which illustrates the current state of evidence and the gaps in 2SLGBTQI+ knowledge synthesis.

link to search strategy


Zack Marshall | Assistant Professor, School of Social Work | McGill University

Anne-Marie Parent | Former graduate student in the Faculty of Education and Member of the Social-Emotional Development Research Group | McGill University

Nathan Farley | Intern & MSW Candidate, School of Social Work | McGill University

Shayna Hadley | Research Assistant, School of Social Work | McGill University

Katharine Hall |Kinesiology and Applied Physiology Subject Librarian | Concordia University

Miquelle Skeete | Research Assistant, School of Social Work | McGill University

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