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Systematic Review: Overview: Introduction

What is a Systematic Review?

A systematic review seeks to collate all evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question.  

The key characteristics of a systematic review are:

  • clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
  • 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; and
  • a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.

From the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions

Review Types

Types of Reviews:

  • Critical Review
  • Literature Review
  • Mapping Review/Systematic Map
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Mixed Studies Review/Mixed Methods Review
  • Overview
  • Qualitative Systematic Review/Qualitative Evidence Syntheses
  • Rapid Review
  • Scoping Review
  • State of the Art Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Systematic Search and Review
  • Systematized Review
  • Umbrella Review

Introduction Video

What does it take to do a systematic review?

Time: The average systematic review can take 18 months.

A Team: A systematic review can't be done alone! Your team should include a subject expert to clarify issues related to the topic; a librarian to identify appropriate databases and develop comprehensive search strategies; reviewers (min. of 2) to screen abstracts and read the full-text; a statistician to assist with data analysis; and a project leader to coordinate and write the final report.

A Clearly Defined Question: Define your research question using the PICO or PICOT format.

     P = Patient, Population, and/or Problem

      I = Intervention

     C = Comparison (not always applicable)

     O = Outcome

     T = Time and/or Type of Study

Comprehensive Literature Searches: Work with a librarian to identity appropriate databases to search and to develop the search strategy.

Citation Management: Use a citation management program to help manage citations retrieved from the literature search.

Standards: Institute of Medicine Standards for Systematic Reviews

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