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Systematic reviews

What is a systematic review?

systematic review identifies and analyses all available evidence-based literature on a specified research question. Methodology follows a structured research process, is transparent and reproducible and attempts to minimize possible bias. Key results and conclusions provide comprehensive evidence-based findings to inform those making practice and policy decisions.

Some systematic reviews involve a meta-analysis which uses statistical methods to combine numerical data from the separate research studies to reach a new statistical conclusion. This provides stronger statistical evidence than that found in an individual study.

The stages of a systematic review include: formulating a research question, specifying eligibility criteria, comprehensively searching the literature, screening for inclusion and exclusion, extracting data from selected studies, assessing quality and risk of bias, and synthesizing results of the review Comprehensive searching

Am I doing a systematic review?

Find out which review is right for your project using Cornell University's decision tree or the Right Review decision support tool.

It takes 12-18 months to complete a systematic review. Before undertaking a systematic review, consider if this review type balances your need to find sufficient studies and/or concepts with the time and resources at your disposal.

What are the different review types?

University of South Australia have outlined the scoping review, systematic review and narrative (literature) review in their Other review types guide.

A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies also provides a summary and comparison of common review types.

What Library support is available for systematic reviews?

The Library Research consultation service is available to help you with your search strategy and database training. You can also consult the Comprehensive searching guide.

Please note that the Library is not responsible for approving your search strategy. This will require your subject expertise and you will need to review this with your supervisor/CI and research team.

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