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Systematic reviews, scoping reviews and other evidence syntheses

Overview of evidence synthesis reviews and relevant strategies, tools and resources.

What is a systematic review?

Systematic reviews:

  • Undertake a systematic, structured review of all empirical evidence on a specific research question
  • Use explicit, pre-defined criteria to include and exclude studies
  • Incorporate search strategies which are systematic, free of bias and reproducible
  • are not “review articles”


Systematic reviews versus literature reviews


From: Kysh, L. (2013). What’s In A Name?: The Difference Between a Systematic Review and a Literature Review and Why It Matters. Poster presented at Medical Library Group of Southern California & Arizona (MLGSCA) and the Northern California and Nevada Medical Library Group (NCNMLG) Joint Meeting, La Jolla, CA. 

Why do a systematic review?

Systematic reviews are used to:

  • resolve conflicting evidence
  • confirm appropriateness of current practice, programs, policies
  • highlight need for future research


What type of systematic review is appropriate?

  • There are many types of systematic reviews; it is important to choose the systematic review method which is appropriate to your research objective e.g.
    • Effectiveness
    • Costs/Economic Evaluation
    • Etiology and/or Risk
    • Prognostic
  • Care must be taken to choose a review matched to your research question, inclusion/exclusion criteria and methods for analysis and synthesis
  • For guidance, consult Table 1, Types of Reviews from Munn, Z., Stern, C., Aromataris, E. et al. What kind of systematic review should I conduct? A proposed typology and guidance for systematic reviewers in the medical and health sciences. BMC Med Res Methodol 18, 5 (2018).


General guidance for systematic reviews

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