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Postgraduate Research in the Health Sciences Library Guide: Systematic Reviews

Library guide for postgraduate students and researchers.

Systematic Reviews

In Evidence-Based Medicine, clinical decision-making is based on the integration of individual expertise, the best available evidence from systematic research and the needs and values of the patient. A systematic review includes a comprehensive search for primary studies on a particular clinical question, the critical evaluation of these studies and a synthesis of results according to a pre-determined methodology which may include meta-analyses of data.

Register your protocol

Once your protocol for your systematic review has been completed, it is necessary to register it. Registering a systematic review enhances the transparency of the review, reduces publication bias and reduces the risk of duplicate reviews.

You can also register your protocol with the following organizations

Reporting guidelines

Search strategy

STARLITE refers to the standards for reporting literature searches (Sampling strategy, Type of study, Approaches, Range of years, Limits, Inclusion and exclusions, Terms used, Electronic sources)

 

Booth A. (2006). "Brimful of STARLITE": toward standards for reporting literature searches.

Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA, 94(4), 421–429.  see Table 3

 

PRESS: Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies

Screening

Scoping Review

Rapid Reviews

Rapid reviews are similar to systematic reviews in their attempt at answering a clinical question to inform decision-making. However, the rapid review has a much shorter time frame, fewer databases are searched and there is often limited or no hand searching or grey literature searching done. This would increase the risk of bias.

Systematic Reviews - Recommended Reading