This research guide provides resources for conducting a systematic review of the literature. Performing a high quality electronic search of information resources ensures the accuracy and completeness of the evidence base used in your review. In contrast to a conventional literature review, a systematic review (SR) is transparent, verifiable, and reproducible, and, as a result, the likelihood of bias is considerably smaller.
The key characteristics of a systematic review are: a clearly defined question with inclusion & exclusion criteria; rigorous & systematic search of the literature; critical appraisal of included studies; data extraction and management; analysis & interpretation of results; and report for publication.
Have a look at this systematic review roadmap from SAGE, which includes videos, presentations, podcasts, resources and more.
Rapid and less rigourous reviews also fill an evidence need and have advantages in terms of turnaround time and accessibility. The most common literature reviews are:
Meta - analysis
Reviews other systematic reviews on a topic
Often defines a broader question than is typical of a traditional systematic review
This type of review is most useful when there are competing interventions to consider
A summary of the clinical literature
An organized method of locating, assembling, and evaluating a body of literature on a particular topic using a set of specific criteria
Assessment of what is already known about a policy or practice issue, using systematic review methods
Much quicker timeframe
Used for time constrained projects
Literature (Narrative) Review
A broad term referring to reviews with a wide scope and non-standardized methodology.
Search strategies, comprehensiveness, and time range covered will vary and do not follow an established protocol.
Addresses a broader research question or set of questions
Often conducted in preparation for conducting a systematic review
Seeks to identify research gaps and opportunities for evidence synthesis
It’s common to confuse systematic and literature reviews because both are used to provide a summary of the existent literature or research on a specific topic. Literature review represents the reading and evaluation of research already carried out and published to discuss a certain subject. Systematic review seeks to collect quantitative data on research already carried out in a given area following a step-by-step process, not necessarily having to discuss these researches.
by Lynn Kysh, MLIS, University of Southern California - Norris Medical Library
Steps to follow: