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Systematic Review

Are you considering developing a systematic review on a topic, but unsure where to start? This guide will help you to get started.

What is Systematic Review?

Systematic review Systematic reviews seek to collate evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question. They aim to minimize bias by using explicit, systematic methods documented in advance with a protocol. Cochrane Handbook.

Systematic Review is the identification, selection, appraisal, and summary of primary studies that address a focused clinical question using methods to reduce the likelihood of bias.     -- JAMAevidence Glossary 

Key characteristics of a systematic review:

  • a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
  • an explicit, reproducible methodology;
  • a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that would meet the eligibility criteria;
  • an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias; and
  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies

About Systematic Review

Systematic Review Team

Systematic Review is a Team Work  --  Systematic Reviews are often a team effort. Important areas of expertise to cover are:

  • Content experts - It is important to have team members or an active consultant to provide expertise in the area covered by the review. Input is usually needed from practitioners and researchers representing a variety of perspectives.
  • Statistician - If meta-analysis is to be considered, access to a statistician with experience in meta-analysis is needed.
  • Medical librarian - Database searching requires specialized knowledge that general research training does not provide. Preferably, the librarian searcher has experience with the extensive searching and documentation procedures that are a part of a systematic review.

Other types of reviews