What is systematic reviews?
A systematic review is a type of review that uses repeatable methods to find, select, and synthesize all available evidence. It answers a clearly formulated research question and explicitly states the methods used to arrive at the answer.
When to conduct a systematic review
A systematic review is a good choice of review if you want to answer a question about the effectiveness of an intervention, such as a medical treatment.
To conduct a systematic review, you’ll need the following:
- A precise question, usually about the effectiveness of an intervention. The question needs to be about a topic that’s previously been studied by multiple researchers. If there’s no previous research, there’s nothing to review.
- A team of at least three people. Best practices require three people for certain steps of the systematic review process. Ideally, in addition to your research team you’ll also have an advisory group of about six people.
- If you’re doing a systematic review on your own (e.g., for a research paper or theses) you should take appropriate measures to ensure the validity and reliability of your research.
- Access to databases and journal archives. Often, your educational institution provides you with access.
- Time. A professional systematic review is a time-consuming process: it will take the lead author about six months of full-time work. If you’re a student, you should narrow the scope of your systematic review and stick to a tight schedule.
- Bibliographic, word-processing, spreadsheet, and statistical software. For example, you could use EndNote, Microsoft Word, Excel, and SPSS.
Tools for managing reviews
Covidence is a paid, not-for-profit service dedicated to improving the use of evidence in healthcare decision-making. It is recommended by cochrane. The service partners are The Alfred Hospital, Monash University, National ICT Australia and the University of London.
EPPI-Reviewer 4 is a paid software developed and maintained by the EPPI-Centre at the Social Science Research Unit of the UCL Institute of Education, University of London, UK. It is for all types of literature review, including systematic reviews, meta-analyses, 'narrative' reviews and meta-ethnographies.
From Brown University. Open and free to all. One can also transfer abstracts over from Reference Manager or EndNote. Allows for collaborative screening of abstracts.
Systematic Review Accelerator
From Bond University. The CREBP Systematic Review Accelerator (SRA) is a free, purpose built platform to speed up multiple steps in the Systematic Review (SR) process. The SRA is a modular design which means the tools can be incorporated into existing SR workflows and combined with other automation tools.
Rayyan is a free web application developed by the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) to help systematic review authors perform their job in a quick, easy and enjoyable fashion. Rayyan also has a mobile app.