This guide is primarily for students conducting systematic or rapid reviews for thesis/dissertation or course work.
This guide will teach you to:
This guide also provides basic information on how to conduct your search; for more in-depth help, book a research consultation with a librarian.
“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 methods aimed at minimizing bias, in order to produce more reliable findings that can be used to inform decision making.”
- Cochrane Library, About Cochrane Reviews
Source: “Library books,” CCAC North Library
Systematic Reviews are comprehensive analyses of all the scientific research on a specific question. They answer the question: what does the evidence say about this particular topic/issue?
A systematic review is not the same as a narrative review or a literature review. Unlike other kinds of reviews, systematic ones must be as thorough and unbiased as possible, and must also make explicit how the search was conducted.
Source: “Research - IMG_1367,” Nicola
A true systematic review:
If you are a student, you're probably not conducting a systematic review in the true sense, but are working on a systematic review-like project.
Grey Literature: Any literature that is not published in the traditional sense. See the page in this guide.
Meta-analysis: Statistical analysis of data that has been collected in a systematic review. Not all systematic reviews include meta-analysis, but all meta-analyses are found in systematic reviews.
Protocols: Plans for future systematic reviews. Protocols describe the research question and the intended search process.
Scoping Reviews: Reviews that determine the general state of a topic in question and locate gaps in the literature. They are more broad and less thorough than systematic reviews.
Rapid Reviews: Rapid reviews are a form of knowledge synthesis in which components of the systematic review process are simplified or omitted to produce information in a timely manner.
Allison Bell and the Gerstein Science Information Centre who provided inspiration and content for the original version of this guide.
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