In contrast to the traditional literature review, systematic literature reviews use a more rigorous and precise approach to reviewing the literature in a specific subject area.
►They deliver a clear and comprehensive overview of available evidence on a given area.
►They help identify research gaps in our current understanding of a field.
►They can highlight methodological concerns in research that can be used to improve future work in the area.
►They can be used to identify questions for which the available evidence provides clear answers and consequently further research is not needed.
Researchers conducting a systematic review need to follow fixed yet flexible and iterative processes that describe necessary steps required to produce a rigorous synthesis of the literature.
You should document at the time all of the steps that you take to complete your review, as this allows your methodology to be compiled accurately.
It is vital to define your question and determine if any other systematic review has previously been conducted on this question. To reduce bias in a systematic review, it is vital to develop a review plan or protocol.
Source: Foster, M.J. and Jewell, S.T. (eds.), 2017. Assembling the pieces of a systematic review: a guide for librarians. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central. [2 June 2020].
Protocols are used to pre-establish objectives and methods for your systematic review. They should be established prior to the formal literature search to help decrease bias. Registering protocols is recommended to avoid duplication of effort. Once you've developed your protocol, register it!
PROSPERO is the International prospective register of systematic reviews in health and social care, welfare, public health, education, crime, justice, and international development.
It is common to confuse systematic and literature reviews as both are used to provide a summary of the existing literature or research in a specific area.
Table from: Robinson, P. and Lowe, J., 2015. Literature reviews vs systematic reviews. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 39(2), pp.103-103. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12393
PRISMA is an evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. PRISMA focuses on the reporting of reviews evaluating randomized trials, but can also be used as a basis for reporting systematic reviews of other types of research.
Higgins JPT, Thomas J, Chandler J, Cumpston M, Li T, Page MJ, Welch VA (editors). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions version 6.0 (updated July 2019). Cochrane, 2019.
Available from www.training.cochrane.org/handbook.
The Systematic Review Toolbox is a searchable online catalogue of tools that support various tasks within the systematic review and wider evidence synthesis process.
The toolbox aims to help researchers and reviewers find:
Learn how to search systematically for information that you might need for research, for a literature review, publication, or report.
Learning resources relevant to systematic reviews and evidence-based medicine.
Library staff are available to consult with researchers and offer training to:
Ask library staff at the information desk for help. If you’re at home, contact us at 091-742785 or Library.GalwayMayo.atu.ie