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 synthesise relevant research evidence.
Protocols are defined in advance to minimise bias, and for reviewers to screen the evidence for quality, and 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.
What are the 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- Systematic, extensive searches to identify all the relevant published and unpublished literature.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.
Do I need to conduct a systematic review?
Determine the type of literature review you need for your research inquiry, as systematic reviews are resource-intensive, require detailed, comprehensive plans and your goal for searching is to synthesise all relevant studies on a particular topic.
For more information
Visit the Systematic Reviews guide for further information on systematic review protocols, searching, managing your search results, critical appraisal, and how to keep up-to-date.
Online tutorials and guidelines are also available.