Preparing a Systematic Review

What is a Systematic Review?

A systematic review is a tool taken from the Evidence-Based-Medicine paradigm (EBM). Its goal is to find the best evidence for a specific question.

A systematic review is appropriate when there is a lot of research on the subject but the research is inconclusive or has contradictory results and a synthesis might help to get to a definitive conclusion. 

In order to find the best evidence systematically, the review is done in a structured process, composed of several stages:

  1. Asking a focused research question comprising a specific population and a specific intervention/exposure (usually by using the PICO model).
  2. Determining in advance criteria for including and excluding papers.
  3. Writing a detailed research protocol.
  4. Doing a comprehensive and systematic search in order to find all research done on the subject.
  5. Assessing the methodological quality of the research papers by using accepted tools for evaluating the Risk of Bias.
  6. Writing a report using PRISMA Guidelines.

 

When should you choose a Literature Review rather than a Systematic Review?

  • When your goal is to review the subject in a wide and comprehensive way according to your personal view
  • If the review is not intended to search for the best evidence and you have no specific focused question
  • If you wish to decide which papers to include in your review according to your judgment
  • If you have no intention to assess the methodological quality of the papers
  • If you wish that the conclusions would be based on the papers you choose according to your preferences

 

Are there any other types of reviews?

Yes, each review type has its own characteristics, and choosing the right kind of review should be done according to your research goals. See more here: A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies.

 

How do you prepare a Systematic Review?

You can use this guide to learn step-by-step the stages of preparing a Systematic Review.

 

How can the library help you?

The library supports the stage of finding the papers for the review. Our service includes choosing the appropriate databases, constructing a search strategy, and running it in the chosen databases.

The service entails a cost, depending on an individual evaluation of the project and the databases involved. If you wish to use our services, please fill out the form and attach a protocol of the planned review. If you wish to ask for more details, you can send an email to Ruti Suhami, Head of our Literature Search Unit: rutisu@tauex.tau.ac.il.

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