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What are the different elements of a systematic review
A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit and reproducible methods aimed at minimizing bias in the review process, in order to produce more reliable findings that can be used to inform decision making.
Reasons for choosing
To address a clearly focused review question by finding the best available, relevant research studies and synthesizing the results.
Focused on a single topic.
Sources / Search
A peer review protocol or plan is included. Clear objectives are identified. Comprehensive sources and explicit and reproducible search strategy.
Eligibility criteria is clearly defined at the outset i.e. before the review is conducted.
Criterion-based selection that is uniformly applied, clear and explicit.
Rigorous critical appraisal, and evaluation of study quality.
Clear summaries of studies based on high quality evidence.
Meta-analysis describes a statistical process for amalgamating the data from different primary studies that have investigated the same issue. All studies included in a meta-analysis should be homogenous in terms of population, intervention and outcomes. A meta-analysis provides a statistical conclusion that has a higher power than individual study results.
Part of the process when reviewing a meta-analysis is to identify the incorporation criteria (i.e. how were the studies chosen for inclusion in the meta-analysis). Meta-analysis most commonly follows a systematic review of the literature but it does not have to (i.e. you can do a meta-analysis without doing a systemic review). However, the rigour of the meta-analysis will be affected if there is no systematic searching and critical appraisal of the literature.
Watch the following by Dr Saravana Kumar (Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, UniSA).
Adapted from: 'A typology of reviews' (pp.94-5).
Please visit library's guides for other review types
The systematic review in context:
Source: HLWIKI International, copied under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 CA)
Using a standard or guidelines will help you conduct your systematic review.
Step 1 - A clear and focused question.
Step 2 - Develop a protocol.
Then, per your protocol:
Step 3 - Conduct systematic searches.
Step 4 - Screen results for relevant studies that meet your eligibility criteria.
Step 5 - Pearling (optional)
Step 6 - Critically appraise the quality of the included studies.
Step 7 - Extract relevant data from the included studies.
Step 8 - Data synthesis.