A systematic review attempts to collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.
It uses explicit, systematic methods that are selected with a view to minimizing bias, thus providing more reliable findings from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions made.
The key characteristics of a systematic review are:
A Systematic Review can be either quantitative or qualitative.
A quantitative systematic review will include studies that have numerical data.
A qualitative systematic review derives data from observation, interviews, or verbal interactions and focuses on the meanings and interpretations of the participants. It will include focus groups, interviews, observations and diaries.
Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions - volume 6, 2019
Note. The Methodological Expectations of Cochrane Intervention Reviews (MECIR Standards) are now incorporated into the Cochrane Handbook
Librarians support the systematic review process by using their searching expertise to:
CAHS medical librarian is not able to execute the search on your behalf or collate results.
1. Check for existing reviews or protocols
2. Formulate a search question - use PICO for a quantitative review or PICo for qualitative review
3. Apply Inclusion and Exclusion criteria - decide
4. Search for relevant studies.
5. Download search results to reference management software.
6. Document the search process, including databases searched, number of citations retrieved, and date searched.
7. Critically Appraise individual studies.
8. Synthesis of studies - interpret/analyse results.
9. Report on findings, documenting all steps in the systematic review process.
|Systematic Review||Scoping Review|
|Focused research question with narrow parameters||Research question(s) often broad|
|Inclusion/exclusion usually defined at outset||Inclusion/exclusion can be developed post hoc|
|Quality filters often applied||Quality not an initial priority|
|Detailed data extraction||May or may not involve data extraction|
|Quantitative synthesis often performed||Synthesis more qualitative and typically not quantitative|
Formally assesses the quality of studies and generates a
|Used to identify parameters and gaps in a body of literature|
Adapted from: Armstrong, R., Hall, B.J., Doyle, J., & Waters, E. (2011). 'Scoping the scope' of a Cochrane review. Journal of Public Health, 33(1), 147-50.http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdr015.
(from Curtin University Library's Systematic Review guide)