Here’s how Subject Librarians can help with your systematic review:
– Help formulate your PICO question
– Assist with developing search strategies across appropriate databases
– Provide advice on how to document the search for the methods section of your review
– EndNote and Zotero support support
– Research data management
Systematic reviews aim to find and evaluate all studies, published and unpublished, relevant to a research question, see this helpful video for an overview. They use systematic methods to minimise bias and they also use transparent methods that allow for replication and verification
• a clearly stated set of objectives with pre-defined eligibility criteria for studies;
• an explicit, reproducible methodology;
• a systematic search that attempts to identify all studies that meet the eligibility criteria;
• an assessment of the validity of the findings of the included studies, for example through the assessment of risk of bias
• a systematic presentation, and synthesis, of the characteristics and findings of the included studies.
Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. (2019). p.xxiii
A meta-analysis is an optional component of a systematic review. A meta analysis uses statistical methods to quantitatively evaluate pooled data from single studies.
If you are writing a systematic review, you need to decide whether it makes sense to include a meta analysis. This can be a difficult decision, see the books listed on this page for guidance.
Is a systematic review the right approach for the question you're asking?
Greenhalgh, T., Thorne, S., & Malterud, K. (2018). Time to challenge the spurious hierarchy of systematic over narrative reviews? European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 48(6), e12931. https://doi.org/10.1111/eci.12931
For a description of commonly used review types in Health Sciences:
Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91–108. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x
Sutton, A., Clowes, M., Preston, L., & Booth, A. (2019). Meeting the review family: exploring review types and associated information retrieval requirements. Health Information & Libraries Journal, 36(3), 202-222. https://doi.org/10.1111/hir.12276
The table below is adapted from this article.
|Systematic review||Traditional literature review|
Seeks to systematically search for, appraise and synthesise research evidence, often adhering to guidelines on the conduct of a review
Generic term: published materials that provide an examination of recent or current literature.
Can cover wide range of subjects at various levels of comprehensiveness. May include research findings
Aims for exhaustive, comprehensive searching
May or may not include comprehensive searching
Quality assessment may determine inclusion/exclusion
May or may not include quality assessment. Relies on author's judgment
What is known; recommendations for practice. What remains unknown; uncertainty around findings, recommendations for future research
May include meta analysis
Analysis may be chronological, conceptual, thematic, etc