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Systematic and Complex Reviews

What is a systematic review?

A systematic review is a summary of all the best available research on a specific question, using transparent replicable protocols to find, evaluate and synthesize relevant research evidence. Protocols are defined in advance in order to minimize bias and reviewers screen the located evidence for quality. All relevant research evidence is aggregated and evaluated to generate an evidence synthesis. A systematic review may include a meta-analysis where quantitative evidence is sufficiently homogenous. This short video provides a brief introduction on the purpose and processes related to a systematic review.

Do you need to conduct a systematic review?

Be clear in regard to the type of literature review required for your research inquiry. Systematic reviews are resource intensive. They require detailed, comprehensive plans and searches with the goal of synthesising all relevant studies on a particular topic. Alternatively, narrative literature reviews provide critical and interpretive summaries using selected resources.

Check which kind of review best meets your needs using the following tools:Image of the Cornell flow chart  pdf

Key components of a systematic review

  • Systematic, extensive searches to identify all the relevant published and unpublished literature.
  • Study selection according to predefined eligibility criteria.
  • Assessment of the risk of bias for included studies.
  • Presentation of the findings in an independent and impartial manner.
  • Discussion of the limitations of the evidence and of the review.

Getting help

Contact your School Librarian for support.

School Librarians are available to explain the processes related to systematic searching for systematic reviews. They are also able to supply training in regard to specific searching techniques relevant to systematic searching.

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