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Literature Review Survival Library Guide: Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide

created by Alex D'Angelo

What is a SYSTEMATIC Review ?

Systematic Review is a very special beast. Originating in Medicine as an aspect of "evidence based medicine", the systematic review has now been adopted in the Social Sciences. The key aspect is of the systematic review is replicability.

Rather than relying on individual judgment to select items from the literature,  the systematic review aims to produce a list of sources which can be replicated by anybody using the same search strategies on the same databases. 

For this reason, every aspect of the search, and every decision made about sources used or search terms chosen, must be recorded. Frequently a team of researchers is involved, and, where results are hand picked, this is done separately by two or three individuals, working simultaneously on the same material.

It is strongly advised that you work with a librarian in planning your searches and identifying your databases. 

Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide

Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide

Available to UCT staff and students in electronic format from the Wiley Online Library on our A-Z Database list. (Search the Wiley database by title for "Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences")

Or from the library catalogue, Primo, at doi:

Or, if on campus, try this direct link:

Systematic Reviews in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide

Author(s): Mark Petticrew, Helen Roberts

Published Online: 11 JAN 2008

Print ISBN: 9781405121101

Online ISBN: 9780470754887

DOI: 10.1002/9780470754887

Copyright © 2006 Mark Petticrew and Helen RobertsThis book, written by two highly-respected social scientists, provides an overview of systematic literature review methods:

  • Outlining the rationale and methods of systematic reviews;
  • Giving worked examples from social science and other fields;
  • Applying the practice to all social science disciplines;
  • It requires no previous knowledge, but takes the reader through the process stage by stage;
  • Drawing on examples from such diverse fields as psychology, criminology, education, transport, social welfare, public health, and housing and urban policy, among others.
  • Including detailed sections on assessing the quality of both quantitative, and qualitative research; searching for evidence in the social sciences; meta-analytic and other methods of evidence synthesis; publication bias; heterogeneity; and approaches to dissemination.‚Äč