A systematic review...
Watch our introductory videos
Contact your Academic Liaison Librarian
Your Academic Liaison Librarian can give advice on some of the steps in the process, such as choosing where to search (step 2), developing a search strategy (step 3), running & recording your search (step 4) and managing your search results (step 5). Refer to your supervisor for help with developing your protocol, evaluating the studies and writing up the review.
You may be asked to do a systematic review, when what they actually want you to do is a systematic review of the literature. There are few key differences. Check with your supervisor what type of review they want you to do.
|Systematic review||Systematic literature review|
|Brings together the results of studies to answer a specific question||Provides a subjective summary of the literature on a topic|
|Extensive search covering published literature. More detailed systematic reviews will also include grey literature.||Thorough search of published literature|
|Involves a detailed protocol often developed using the PICO framework||Includes a detailed search strategy|
|Usually involves three or more people to eliminate bias (but a more limited version can be done by a single student for their dissertation)||Can be produced by a single person, so open to bias|
|Large, professional systematic reviews can take months or years to produce||Weeks or months to produce|
Summary adapted from: Kysh, L. (n.d.) What's in a name? The difference between a systematic review and a literature review and why it matters. URL: https://figshare.com/articles/Difference_between_a_systematic_review_and_a_literature_review/766364 [9 April 2018]
There are many other types of review a few of which are outlined below. Many of the steps in this guide will still be relevant for other reviews, it might just be the way you synthesise the results which is different. For a more comprehensive overview of review types see the page below from Duke University:
An initial assessment of the size and scope of research literature on a topic. Can be the first step in a systematic review.
Uses systematic review methods to search and critically appraise existing research to find out what is already known about a topic.
A statistical approach to combining the data derived from from studies retrieved by a systematic review.
Uses description rather than statistics to analyse the findings from relevant primary studies.
The following videos offer two explanations of systematic reviews and what's involved in doing them.
An introduction to planning your systematic review.
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This video covers the first four steps in doing a systematic review, including creating a protocol and searching for literature.
This video covers the fifth and sixth steps in doing a systematic review. It focuses on using Desktop EndNote to manage references and screening the literature.
The final in a series of four videos on systematic reviews which covers writing it up.