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Gerstein Science Information Centre

Knowledge syntheses: Systematic & Scoping Reviews, and other review types


Remember that knowledge syntheses:
  • require a team
  • require a significant amount of time to complete
  • requires adherence to transparent and rigorous methods
  • require a strong project management component
  • require commitment, clear, and open communication among all team members 
  • require patience to get through the learning curve of the process


Once you complete your synthesis, it's extremely rewarding and exciting to share what you've discovered!
Read a comprehensive Readiness Checklist provided by Unity Health Toronto.

Do you have a team?

Ensuring you have a robust, multidisciplinary team with the appropriate skills for the type of review you are completing is crucial. Read Assembling a Team to learn more. 

Do you have time?

Reviews can take a significant amount of time to complete. It has been reported as the most common barrier in completing a Cochrane review, according to a report by Gillies et al. (2009). Make sure that your team understands the time commitment involved before starting any type of knowledge synthesis. Remember, some review types take longer to complete than others (systematic vs. rapid reviews). 

Do you know the methods?

Not every knowledge synthesis utilizes the same methods. Make sure you and your team are knowledgeable about how to conduct the review type you are interested in, and how to do so in a transparent and rigorous manner. Read more about each knowledge synthesis type on their respective pages: systematic reviewsmeta-analysisscoping reviews, rapid reviews, realist reviews, mapping reviews, umbrella reviews

Do you know how to manage a project?

Undertaking a knowledge synthesis project requires considerable planning, management, and documentation. Make sure you have the right project management tools before you start. 

Does your team have tools for communication?

Excellent communication and commitment among team members are essential during any knowledge synthesis project. Ensure that you and your team are well-equipped to maintain consistent, clear and open communication. Read the section on communication for recommendations on how to improve team communication.